By: JESS WEBSTER
Round 4 Rising Star nominee: Luke McKay
The Canberra Demons have produced their first ever NEAFL Rising Star nominee in the form of teenage defender Luke McKay.
The 19-year-old born and bred ACT product, who began his football journey with Belconnen in the under-7s, now represents a new frontier in Canberra as part of the Demons’ NEAFL side.
The talented half-back made the tough decision to leave the Magpies when they exited the competition to continue his NEAFL career with Eastlake last year, managing five matches in his debut season.
McKay has taken his game to new heights in 2016, playing in every match so far and named in Canberra’s best players the past two weeks.
Coming up against one of the most experienced teams in the competition against Sydney University on Saturday, McKay held his own in the backline to be one of the Demons’ best performers in a 46-point loss.
His attacking run of half-back gives the Demons much drive from defence – collecting 21 disposals and 10 rebounds - and his powerful right boot was on display with a 50m goal in the first quarter.
The former NSW/ACT representative said the formation of the Canberra Demons this year has benefited his football greatly.
“I’m loving football at the moment,” he said. “There is a really good culture at the Demons, especially with such a young group.
“Last year I was playing across under-18s, TAC Cup and Eastlake, but I’m a lot more stable this year.”
In 2015, McKay played in no less than four different competitions – the NEAFL, AFL Canberra First Grade, AFL Canberra Rising Stars, and the TAC Cup – plus a NSW/ACT Under-22s representative game.
McKay is relishing the opportunity to not only concentrate on one side this year, but also a switch from the midfield to defence.
He said he is beginning to find some confidence in the competition as he looks to continue his good form and reach his full potential.
“My goal, ever since I was eight years old, was to play AFL,” he said.
“Hopefully I will have a crack at it this season and see how I go, but I am loving the Demons at the moment
“I feel like this has been my best season so far, so hopefully I keep it going.”
McKay joins Redland midfielder Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds, Sydney Uni’s Michael Manteit, and Sydney Swans’ forward Ned Reinhard as nominees for 2016.
The Rising Star is awarded to the most promising young talent in the NEAFL competition.
Nominees must be under the age of 21 and played less than 20 senior games at the start of the 2016 season.
Keep track of all the 2016 nominees and watch their individual highlights on our dedicated Rising Star page here.
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