Patrick McCartin has moved on quickly since being selected as the first overall pick at the AFL National Draft in November.
Speaking at the AFL Players’ Association Induction Camp on Monday, the young Saint provided aflplayers.com.au with an update about his pre-season to date.
“My first pre-season has been great. It’s been full on – definitely everything I thought it was going to be,” McCartin said.
“I knew going in that it was going to be hard, but when you’ve got 40-odd blokes doing it with you, who all want to achieve the same thing, it makes it a bit easier.”
The rampaging key forward known for his insatiable attack on the ball and soaring pack marks is settling in well with his new teammates, though he admits he’s been heckled once or twice about being the number one draft pick.
“I do get the mickey taken out of me a bit in the locker room by some of the senior boys,” McCartin said with a laugh.
“But it’s been fine, it’s just a number. When you walk into the club, you’re exactly the same as everyone else – an AFL-listed player striving for success.”
— St Kilda FC (@stkildafc) November 27, 2014
The 18-year-old admits he’s been “a bit of a pest” around the club, shadowing senior players, asking questions, observing training outputs, preparation and recovery.
“I’ve certainly looked to the older blokes, asked them questions, tried to do what they do and follow their lead,” McCartin said.
“Nick Riewoldt hasn’t been out on the track as much, and has done more stuff inside. But on the track guys like ‘Joey’ Montagna and Farren Ray have been super good. I try to emulate their training intensity and the standards they’ve set for themselves.”
McCartin’s pre-season progress has been encouraging – he has set new personal bests on the track and in the gym and is enjoying the challenges that arise along the way.
While more experienced Saints have provided McCartin with plenty of support, having his best mate along for the journey has been an added bonus. McCartin and fellow St Kilda draftee Hugh Goddard played junior football together at the Geelong Falcons, anchoring both ends of the ground throughout the 2014 TAC Cup season.
“It never really crossed my mind, or his that we both might end up at the same club,” McCartin said, still somewhat in disbelief.
“We just didn’t think it was realistic, so we didn’t entertain the thought. But leading up to the draft, there were murmurs, so it was more hope than anything.”
Immediately after being selected with the first pick in November’s draft, McCartin was whisked away back-stage for media, photos and interviews. As fate had it, he walked back out to the draft just in time to hear St Kilda call out Goddard’s name for pick 21.
“I was in disbelief, I was just stoked,” McCartin said.
“It’s pretty good to have someone that you know. It makes it a little bit easier to be able to turn around to someone that you don’t have to build a relationship with, so he’s been fantastic and we’re very lucky to have him.”
McCartin also considers himself lucky to have moved in with an “absolutely incredible” host family in Brighton, who have allowed him to “adjust and find my feet”.
“The workload has taken some adjusting to – with my diabetes I’ve just had to watch that – but it’s mostly getting used to a new routine, new living conditions… But I’ve been on top of all of that, and the club has been really supportive and helpful.”
The 194cm forward’s footy education will continue for some time yet; this week’s AFL Players’ Induction Camp was the latest step in that process.
“The ‘personal brand’ workshop was a real eye-opener – it’s really important to present yourself well to the public. But it’s all been really valuable, particularly [the focus on] becoming a better person as well as a better footy player.”
Find out more about the AFL Players’ Induction Camp here.
Which first-year player are you most looking forward to watching in 2015? Be sure to vote in the poll on our homepage!