JOE McKinnon’s introduction to a full-time defensive role has included manning some of the Hampden league’s best key forwards.
The North Warrnambool Eagles teenager – still only 19 – is relishing the challenge.
“You don’t get as many kicks playing in the back line, especially when you’re playing on the elite forwards in the league like Levi (Dare), (Sam) ‘Moo’ Cowling and Steve Staunton,” he said.
“It is more a lockdown role. I am happy doing whatever I have to do for the team.
“They have different strengths. They are all quite strong lads and Moo gets around the ground pretty well.
“It’s probably just been the last three weeks I have played there the majority (of the game).
“I played one or two games early on in the season but it was a pinch-hit in the back line.”
McKinnon has played ruck and forward during his fledgling senior career.
The former TAC Cup-listed tall said he was now happy honing his craft in the Eagles’ back six.
“You’ve sort of got to work as a team in the back line and I quite enjoy that,” he said.
McKinnon, who is working at Warrnambool Party Hire but has long-term ambitions of joining the police force, said there was an air of optimism around the club.
The Eagles – the master of the narrow defeat in 2018 – jumped off the bottom of the ladder on Saturday and hope to finish the season on a winning note.
They play Hamilton Kangaroos and South Warrnambool in the final two rounds.
“We are quite a tight-knit group and it’s been hard at times but with the announcement of (Adam) Dowie (as coach for next season), it’s looking quite positive and bright at North,” he said.
“All the kids are buying into it and looking forward to the future. We know Dowie is there for one job and that’s to get a premiership for the club. We know he’ll do everything to get us that.”