Toby McLean sets himself high standards.
Despite playing 19 games at senior level in 2019, it’s a year he’s happy to leave in the rear-view mirror.
A big pre-season campaign is the key to turning things around after a year he described as inconsistent from a personal point of view.
“If you’re comparing it to the year before, I thought I had a lot better year in 2018 – numbers-wise, anyway,” McLean said.
“(Last year) I got dropped, came back for a few games, then got injured and found it hard to find my feet again.
“I’m definitely looking forward to this year to see what I can provide for the team.”
In the space of five seasons as a Bulldog, McLean has quietly gone about his business to become a regular at AFL level – and has played 60 of a possible 67 matches since featuring in the 2016 premiership side.
Now 24 years old and entering his footballing prime, much like the Bulldogs’ group overall, McLean is driven to make a more consistent impact.
Having settled more forward than in the midfield during 2019, he sees himself playing a similar role this year and is building his pre-season plan accordingly.
There’s plenty of competition for spots in that forward line, with recruit Josh Bruce and draftee Cody Weightman adding to a group which clicked at the end of 2019, kicking more than 100 points in four of the team’s last five home-and-away matches.
“This year, I think I’ll be playing more forward again, so I’ll be working on my forward craft a lot more in training as we build towards the games,” McLean said.
“You’re always looking to get stronger and fitter and you find yourself comparing yourself to other boys that are out there.
“I just want to be as influential as I can in every game that I play and hopefully play the 22 games for the year – and hopefully we can play finals again.
“We’ll wait and see what happens.
“It’s definitely a healthy environment that we’ve got at the moment and hopefully we can start well in round one.”