Bottle greens' litmus test

Warrnambool ruckman Andrew McCarthy is ready to test himself at interleague level.

Warrnambool ruckman Andrew McCarthy is ready to test himself at interleague level.

ANDREW McCarthy is used to playing as an undersized ruckman.

He’s done it in three premierships for Warrnambool.

Now the 188-centimetre tall is eager to test himself at interleague level.

McCarthy, 30, will make his Hampden interleague debut against Ovens and Murray at Wangaratta tomorrow.

The 196-game Warrnambool veteran is named on the Bottle Greens’ bench and expects to play as a third ruck option behind North Warrnambool Eagles’ Jordan Dillon and Koroit’s Jeremy Hausler.

McCarthy said it was important he made his mark around the ground and work his opponent.

“My goal is to try and make it a nil-all draw,” he said. “Jump early and get them out of the road and try and do my best and get a few touches around the ground.

“It’ll be interesting to see the speed and if I end up in the ruck, just what size players they are.”

McCarthy played in the ruck for Warrnambool in “bits and pieces” before coach Scott Carter threw him the role full-time two- and-a-half years ago.

“There was an injury to Rob Bright and I had always been second ruck and then I got to play full- time and grab my chance and was lucky enough to hold my spot again,” he said.

Hampden interleague coach Nick O’Sullivan said McCarthy belied his size and would be a handful for Ovens and Murray.

“It’s easy to overlook him because he’s too short to be a ruckman but he’s a real footballer,” O’Sullivan said.

“He just knows where to go on the ground and what to do under pressure. 

“He reads the play so well and puts himself in the right places. 

“It’s about time he got a game. He’s one bloke who really deserves a crack at it.”

McCarthy was shocked to earn an interleague guernsey, saying he thought his chances were “fairly slim to be honest”.

He said he wanted to build camaraderie with players he’d played against during his 13-year senior career.

“I was really happy just to make the squad,” he said. “It’s a great honour and exciting to play a strong league.

“They rate themselves as number one and most people say they should be around there.

“It was good listening to the older guys in Arnie (O’Sullivan) and Jim Bell and what it means to them.”

Warrnambool has four interleague representatives.

Midfielders Brendan Moore and Jackson Bell will join McCarthy in making their interleague debuts, while centre half- forward Travis Graham has past country championships experience.

“It’s fantastic for young guy like Jackson,” McCarthy said.

“He’s 19 years old and it’s a big chance to showcase his skills.

“Travis has performed really well at interleague level.”

O’Sullivan shared the emotions of McCarthy and Dan Casey at selection. 

“It was exciting to see their faces when they were announced in the side,” he said.

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