MELBOURNE midfielder Jordie McKenzie has risen from rookie pick to leader in the space of four seasons.
McKenzie, 22, was one of three new faces in Melbourne’s nine-man 2013 leadership group which was announced yesterday.
The Terang Mortlake export joined new recruits Chris Dawes and Shannon Byrnes — both premiership players at their previous AFL clubs — in the leadership group.
Jack Trengove and Jack Grimes will share the Demons’ captaincy for a second season, while Nathan Jones was elevated to vice-captain following his best and fairest season.
Mitch Clark, James Frawley and Colin Garland fill out the leadership group.
Melbourne coach Mark Neeld was full of praise for McKenzie, who has established himself in the Demons’ midfield since his 2009 debut.
“Jordie McKenzie continues his great story, coming from the rookie list to where he is now,” Neeld said.
“Jordie’s work ethic, competitiveness and attention to detail have earned him this position.” Paul Henriksen taught McKenzie at Terang College and worked with him at TAC Cup club Geelong Falcons.
Henriksen said McKenzie loved the defensive aspect of football and had a deep understanding of the game.
“Jordie’s leadership to me is not always verbal, it’s about his actions on the field,” he said.
Henriksen said McKenzie’s tale was one of persistence after a hip injury marred his TAC Cup career.
“We are always proud of what he’s done and where he has come from with his injuries,” he said. “He’s had a couple of injuries at Melbourne but because he was injured as a kid he has the belief that if ‘I do the right things, I can get through it’.”
The Demons’ leadership selection process involved players, coaches and staff.
The players were rated in leadership, competence and competitiveness.
McKenzie has forged a name for himself as an inside midfielder since joining Melbourne via the rookie draft in 2008.
The 186-centimetre tackling machine made his debut in round 17, 2009, and has played 57 AFL games.