McDonald back to the big-time

Williamstown key defender Oscar McDonald will be hoping it’s third time lucky with his AFL career.

McDonald was signed by Fremantle on the opening day of the AFL’s delisted free agency period.

The 27-year-old spent the 2023 season with the Victorian Football League club and was named at full back in the VFL team of the year.

The former Melbourne and Carlton back will to Western Australia after signing a two-year deal.

McDonald played 81 AFL games with Melbourne and five games with Carlton between 2015 and 2022.

His time at the Blues was hampered by a back injury and he was delisted at the end of 2022.

“It’s really exciting, I’ve always wanted to get back into the AFL system,” McDonald told his new club via video.

“I spent a year at Williamstown in the VFL and had a really enjoyable time there, but the main goal was to get back into the AFL and to have an opportunity to do that by the Fremantle footy club is a great honour and I’m really privileged.

“I had a fantastic time, obviously VFL is part-time and Williamstown was really flexible with work and different people’s commitments and the coaching staff led by Justin Plapp and Jeff Andrews, CEO [chief executive] Ash Baker, they set up an unbelievable program to allow people to play well individually but play well as a team, so I really liked it.

“Obviously, it was different coming from an AFL lifestyle into the VFL with work and then going to training at night.”

During his time at the Blues, McDonald dealt with injury, however he said following an uninterrupted VFL season, he is feeling ready to go.

“I had a bit of a troubled run with the back injury over the last two years, I had a stress fracture in my lower back which sort of went on for a year, year-and-a-half, I had pretty invasive surgery to fix that up, that combined with different training methods, I was able to get on the park and play 20 games,” he said.

Being an intercepting key-defender, McDonald is reliant on his team’s defence, where he will be supported alongside experienced defenders at the Dockers such as Alex Pearce, Luke Ryan and Brennan Cox.

“I like to play in a good system where it’s not just one vs one, we work together as a team as a back six and a full 18 team,” he said.

“Being a defender for most of my career I’m very defensive focused, like to win my one on one battles and read the play from that and help my teammates where I can.

“[Fremantle] already has a world of talent in the team, and hopefully I can just add a small part to that, but watching from afar, I like to watch a bit of football and too see those guys go to work.”

Fremantle head of player personnel David Walls says McDonald will add to Fremantle’s defensive depth.

“He has a big, mature body (196 centimetre and 100 kilogram), was very good in one on one contests and is moving better than ever,” Walls said.

“Oscar played 20 VFL games in 2023, as well as practice matches, so is coming off a full season where he looked a level above the VFL competition.”