Wilston Grange speedster Lochie McRae is the round 3 Rising Star nominee,
McRae ran rampant in the Gorillas’ win over UQ on Friday night, using his speed and endurance to turn the forward 50 into a pressure cooker.
“It’s my first year of senior footy, so I’ve just been trying to go as hard as I can at the footy, and make a statement. My fitness is alright, but running in the right spots is really important to me,” McRae said.
“I think it is my work without the footy that has helped this year; the pressure I’ve been putting on, trying to keep the ball locked in there has been a focus of mine.”
McRae landed at the Gorilla den at the start of 2016, and immediately felt right at home.
“I was training with the Aspley NEAFL side up until Christmas, and got cut, so I was tossing up between playing QFA at Aspley, or playing in the QAFL. I know a few people at Grange, it’s nice and close, so it was the perfect fit,” he said.
“They have been great. My old man used to play in the QAFL, knows a few blokes there, so they have been welcoming and really good to me.”
Before pulling on the red white and blue, McRae was off winning a flag with Aspley’s Colts side in 2015.
“It was amazing. It was a pretty nerve racking day, but we got up, and it was just an awesome feeling. It would be right up there in my sporting highlights,” he said.
Remarkably, two years before that he wasn’t even playing footy.
“I’ve only been playing footy for three years. I played union all throughout school, started at Aspley at Under 18’s and then played Under 19’s there last year,” McRae said.
“I played AFL when I was in Under 8’s, because Dad is mad about footy, growing up in Victoria. I love it way more than the other codes, there is so much more freedom.”
This year, McRae’s footy has gone to another level, and he credits a father and son combination for it.
“Steve Brittain has helped me out a lot. We have been switching in the midfield and forward line, so he has been talking to me a lot, telling me what spots to be in, just really helpful. Wayne Brittain has also been really good for my footy this year,” he said.
After a summer with the Hornets, being there on a permanent basis is still the aim.
“Having another crack at Aspley in the NEAFL is the goal, but I’m also happy to stay at Grange, the QAFL is a great comp. If that opportunity did arrive though, that would be awesome,” he said.
And he knows exactly what is required to take that next step.
“Getting in the right spots, and getting some more touches. Most of the touches I get at the moment are the hard ball, so getting a bit more on the outside,” McRae said.
Wilston Grange takes on Sandgate at Lemke Road this Sunday night, in an ANZAC Day eve annual fixture.
By Andrew Wiles