The chance to challenge himself at GFNL level has proven too hard for Joe McDonald to ignore, with the Ocean Grove captain signing with Newtown & Chilwell.
The 24-year-old, who finished runner-up in the Grubbers’ best-and-fairest for the second time in three years in 2023, is also trying to win a spot on the list of VFL club Port Melbourne.
“Things changed a lot for last year in terms of some opportunities that came up with footy,” McDonald said.
“I thought after having a full season of senior footy under my belt injury free … that it was probably a good time to challenge myself.
“I’m 24 now and played a bit of senior footy, and the opportunity was there to go and have a bit of a crack.”
McDonald, who made 55 senior appearances for the Grubbers, also couldn’t turn down the chance to play with his best mate – and Barwon Heads product – Zach Walter at the Towners.
“That was another big drawcard for me,” he said.
“We’ve always played footy against each other and had some pretty heated battles, so it will be good to play alongside him.”
With some critical departures from the Eagles’ midfield, McDonald is keen to have a crack in the engine room.
“There’s definitely an opportunity in the midfield,” he said. “We know they’ve lost a couple of their premier midfielders, who have gone back to their home clubs.
“But, I’m a pretty adaptable player, and I’ll play wherever I’m needed.”
For now, McDonald is enjoying testing himself at VFL training under Torquay and East Geelong premiership coach Adam Skrobalak.
“Skrobba’s really good at allowing yourself to be confident and back yourself and play to your strengths,” he said.
“Amongst a VFL training program, there’s a lot of good players, but he gives you the confidence to back your ability.”
McDonald is one of three confirmed additions at Newtown & Chilwell, which has farewelled Matt Boag (Torquay), Lachie Bond (Redan), Ryan Eyers (Corowa-Rutherglen), Euriah Hollard (Bell Park), Harrison Orr (Geelong Amateur), Tom Panuccio (Swan Districts) and Blake Sutterby (Geelong Amateur).
The Eagles have also signed Wil O’Dwyer from Noosa and Jake Toulmin from Ballarat League club East Point.
O’Dwyer is coming off an impressive season where he won the QAFL club’s best-and-fairest and represented Queensland in an interstate clash with Tasmania.
He made one VFL appearance with Aspley in 2021.
Toulmin played 15 games and kicked four goals for East Point in 2023.