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Catch me if you can, says Rising Star Macrae

Jackson Macrae of the Bulldogs in action during the 2013 NAB Cup round 02 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Hawthorn Hawks at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)
Jackson Macrae is the round eight NAB AFL Rising Star nominee
WATCH young Western Bulldog Jackson Macrae play and you'll quickly realise he has an uncanny ability to elude an opponent.

From a sidestep to a well-balanced baulk, the 18-year-old midfielder is a hard man to catch.

And as this reporter found, he's also hard to catch off the field.

Refreshingly, unlike most teenagers these days, Macrae doesn't have an addiction to his mobile phone.

When AFL.com.au finally caught up with him to chat about his round eight NAB AFL Rising Star nomination, it was on his father's phone.

"Mine has been stuck on aeroplane mode since we flew back from the Gold Coast, so I'll have to get a new one," Macrae said.

"I'm a pretty laid-back character, I like to think and read, so its good to get away from technology from time to time."

It's this unflappable nature that has helped him make an impressive start to his four-game-old AFL career.

A haul of 26 possessions and four tackles against the Suns underlined why the Bulldogs were delighted to grab the Oakleigh Chargers product with pick six in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft.

"It was obviously my best game so far, so I was pleased with that," Macrae said.

"Its very humbling to be acknowledged for my performance, but it also drives me to reach the standards of the great players who have been nominated before me."

His coach, Brendan McCartney, is not surprised recognition has come so quickly.

"Jackson is a young person who understands he has talent, and has worked very hard at improving his craft," McCartney said.

"We know Jackson is such a balanced and driven young man and he will continue to build on his early progression as a footballer — this nomination is just one stepping stone to a really good career, and shows he was a great selection by Simon Dalrymple and his recruiting team."

Macrae brings to the Bulldogs' line up something the sons of the west have been desperately crying out for - some run and carry along with deft foot skills.

And to hone those prized attributes, an old dog not too dissimilar in character and skill has been appointed to mentor the young pup.

"I'm lucky enough to be paired with Bob Murphy and he speaks to me about all things, footy and life," Macrae said.

"He's helped me settle in and gives me feedback on my games, so he's been a huge support."

While Murphy helps guide him around the footy field, he relies on another elder statesman or Melbourne's inconsistent public transport system to get him to training and games.

"I'm yet to get my licence because I've been a bit lazy, but Daniel Giansiracusa lives around the corner and he gives me lifts," Macrae said.

"And I don't mind getting the train at 6.30 in the morning … it hasn't been too bad.

"I haven't had a day were I've woken up yet and I didn't want to come in to the club. I'm loving every minute of it."