Dylan Toune caught up with the Hawks’ new rookie ruckman Broc McCauley to discuss how he’ settling in, his previous soccer career and who we need to watch out for in 2012.
McCauley, 24, has come down from Queensland where he’s spent much of his life, playing for Southport in the QAFL (now NEAFL) and then at the Lions, playing three senior games last year.
How are you finding the move to the Hawks in general?
BM: Yeah, I’m really liking it. I think it’s a really good club, I’ve really enjoyed the past two or three months being at the club. I’m really enjoying the city of Melbourne in general, so that’s making things a lot easier.
So you have connections in Melbourne?
BM: Yeah, I’ve got a bit of family down here and I’ve got a few of my good mates down here which obviously helps the transition.
So what was your feeling when you were called out in the rookie draft? Did you have any prior indication?
BM: Actually I came down and trained with Hawthorn prior to the draft – in I think – early December, they obviously got me down and after about halfway through training during the week they just called me in and said they were going to take me and secure me a spot in the rookie draft. So there was a bit of security there, which was good.
I was reading just before that you originally played soccer for Mt Gravatt?
BM: Yeah, Mt Gravatt in the Brisbane Premier League.
Did you find any of the skills transferred when you came back to playing AFL?
BM: Well, I was playing as a goalkeeper so when I first transferred to footy I found, I mean I’d played sport at school and had always been a decent runner, but obviously playing as a goalie for a long period of time, I didn’t have the endurance and it took me quite a bit of time to build that up. I think it helped in the ruck though, same as goalkeeping it helps having the explosive power.
A few Hawks fans have been interested seeing how you’d fit into the Hawks side. You’ve obviously been primarily played as a ruckman, but could you see yourself playing any other positions? For example, being a goalkeeper could you see any defensive position being a possibility or being used as a forward option?
BM: Look, if you’d asked me that two or three years ago I probably would have said no, but particularly in the past year, with the rule changes and the substitution coming in, ruckmen almost need to play forward.
So I’ve been putting a lot of effort and energy into playing down forward, so I could see myself playing 20% of the game down forward if needs be. Primarily, ruck would be my preferred position.
In your few games last year I saw you picked up a decent amount of possessions for a ruckman, so obviously you have a good eye for the ball. In general, how has the pre-season at the Hawks been? Has it been different from the Lions? More intense? Has it been good fun?
BM: It’s pretty similar I guess, just different in the scheduling in general. The Lions tended to train longer while the Hawks train more frequently. But in general pretty similar, I don’t know which is better but I’m definitely the fittest I’ve ever been. I’m gaining benefits from the Hawthorn pre-season, but at the same time the Brisbane pre-season was really good as well.
Is there anyone you’ve seen around the training track that we should be looking out for? Has anyone surprised you or any of the young blokes really impressed you?
BM: Yeah, Alex Woodward was probably the stand-out for the first years I’d say, 18-year-old, but a bit of a shame he did his…not sure if it was an ACL, but some kind of injury to his knee, so we’re waiting to see what that’ll do to his season (It has been confirmed as an ACL injury and he will be out for the season).
But really, a few of the younger guys, guys like Bradley Hill, have a whole lot of potential but Hawthorn’s obviously got a really strong list so it might be a lot tougher than other clubs to get games for first years. But yeah, I’d say Alex Woodward has been the standout during the pre-season.
Have you spoken to guys like Max Bailey and David Hale about being a ruckman? Have you found the experience around the club helpful? You’ve got a bit of an older, more experienced list, especially in big games, compared to the Lions.
BM: I’ve got a pretty good relationship with Max Bailey and David Hale and the other ruckmen in general, we obviously spend a lot more time together than any other group.
Max is really coming along as a prominent ruckman in the AFL and I think this could be his breakout season now that he’s, touch wood, got over his injury issues. David Hale as well, he’s been pretty good to learn off as well. Pretty decent player, around 130 goals and 150 games so he’s definitely been good to learn off as an older head.
Are there any deficiencies in your game that you’d like to focus on and iron out particularly?
BM: I reckon my kicking and decision-making are areas I want to work on, I’ve been working with David Rath who does the sports science type of thing, working on my kicking with him has, in particular, really come along in the past couple of months so I’m looking forward to this season so see where it’s at.
Are you happy with how the NEAFL and the few games at the Lions helped you get a taste for the AFL?
BM: Definitely. The last couple of games I had last year I started to get a bit more confident, I think it takes a bit of time to build that up, so I’m hoping if I get another chance this year that’d be great. From playing NAB Cup 2 weeks ago I felt a lot more confident than this time last year, so I’m hoping I can take that into this season.
I hear you’ve got a stockbroking career or something on the cards for after football?
BM: Yeah, I’ve finished uni and I was working as a stockbroker, I’ve done a bit of post-grad study as well. I’ll probably be looking to do something as we get a day off each week, at Hawthorn we get Wednesday’s off every week, so I’m looking at doing something on the day off this year down the finance area.
So would you say your aspirations as a footballer are to get games and try to develop more as a footballer?
BM: Yeah, I just want to get as much out of footy as I can, but obviously having that back-up is pretty handy as well.
Hawthorn, in particular, are really good in getting players to do something on their day off, showing them the key to a successful career is also having something outside of football.
In an AFL PA survey I think Hawthorn were top 3 in players participating in study – whether it be TAFE or anything along those lines, or an apprenticeship, they’re pretty heavy on getting players to get involved in that stuff.
On a bit of a lighter note, do you have a pre-game ritual or any favourite foods to have before a game?
BM: Just really the night before I make a big pasta or something like that, that’s about it. No real pre-game rituals, just have my coffee before the game and that’s about it.
Do you have a favourite place to eat or relax in Melbourne yet?
BM: There’s a good little Japanese restaurant in, I think it’s Glen Iris, called Kenji which is good, big Hawthorn fans, mates with all the boys, good food there I reckon.
Any good mates at the club yet? Or is it all just coming along?
BM: Yeah, it’s all just coming along, just pretty good mates with most of the ruckmen obviously because we spend a lot of time together, but honestly all the guys at Hawthorn, they’re all really ripper blokes.
So clearly very happy to be at Hawthorn?
BM: Really enjoying it. Extremely good culture and obviously a really good list, so hopefully we can be successful this year. Obviously we’ll be pushing, like last year, giving ourselves every chance we can to go deep into September.
Full interview audio available here.