JOE McKinnon wasn’t quite where he hoped to be on Monday night.
The young North Warrnambool Eagle was forced to watch on from the sidelines as his contemporaries were put through their paces at North Ballarat Rebels’ Warrnambool base testing.
McKinnon, who played two games for the Rebels as a bottom-age player in 2016, rolled his ankle playing basketball last week and is not sure how long the ligament injury will keep him out.
But he is sure what he wants to get out of season 2017 and beyond.
“The goal is just to hopefully get into the Rebels and play some good senior footy at North,” he said.
“Then, in the end, (I want to) be playing VFL, AFL – just as high a footy as I can get.”
McKinnon, who also made the under 16 Rebels list two years ago, said he had learned and improved a lot in his first season with the under 18 outfit.
“Probably the strength (has been my biggest improvement),” he said.
“I’ve always had a little bit of strength, but I did a lot more work on it last year.
“This year, I’m trying to get a but more fit and a bit more endurance and speed.”
The key position player made his senior debut for the Eagles in 2016, racking up seven appearances.
He, along with many other talented south-west footballers, made the weekly trip to Ballarat for training and to learn from revered coach Gerard FitzGerald.
“Fitzy’s got a good knowledge of the game, and you also learn off the likes of Hugh McCluggage, Willem Drew,” McKinnon said.