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McDonald, Viney friends again after stoush

Ben Guthrie  February 11, 2016 3:22 PM

McDonald opens up on Viney brawl Ben Guthrie speaks exclusively to Melbourne's Tom McDonald
It happens quite frequently at training, guys have little dust-ups, but there's never anything too serious

MELBOURNE'S Tom McDonald and Jack Viney have cleared the air and are friends again following their heated exchange at training on Tuesday.

McDonald, who has been carrying a sore left shoulder for the past fortnight, took exception to an arm-bar tackle from Viney that ended with the defender being driven head first into the ground.

The pair was involved in a verbal altercation as well as some push and shove before teammates and coaches came in to defuse the situation.

"It happens quite frequently at training, guys have little dust-ups, but there's never anything too serious," McDonald told AFL.com.au.

"We had clinics together all of yesterday (Wednesday) and we're back to being friends, so there's nothing to worry about there."

The 23-year-old said it was important to strike the right balance between being aggressive with tackles and not going over the top and injuring teammates.

"We try not to hurt each other at training and I had a bit of a sore shoulder, so I didn't want to jeopardise the start of the season by hurting it [seriously]," McDonald said.

"I was just a bit frustrated with Jack, but I don't want him to lose the way he plays his footy.

"It's a fine line – we want guys to go hard but we don't want them to hurt each other."

McDonald had an outstanding first half of the 2015 season as he established himself as one of the premier defenders in the competition.

His attacking exploits improved markedly, as he averaged a career-high 19 disposals and seven marks per game across the year.

But after being soundly beaten in a one-on-one battle with Collingwood's Travis Cloke as the spearhead nailed seven straight goals in the teams' round 10 clash on Queen's Birthday, McDonald's form dipped.

"I got a bit down on myself and a little frustrated and it took me four or five weeks to get back to playing some good footy again towards the back end of the season," McDonald said.

"It's the mental side of the game for me, and I think with my fitness (McDonald is the best endurance runner at the club), and having a few seasons in the League, I'll be able to play out the full year.

"I don't have to be at an A or A-plus level every week, but it's about not having those drop offs and that's what I'm working on."

McDonald's standing within the side has grown considerably in the past few years.

That increased confidence was on display as he and teammates Tomas Bugg, James Harmes and McDonald's younger brother Oscar spoke with children from the King David School in Armadale, as part of Melbourne's Australia Post Community Camp school visits.

McDonald's rising reputation – he has played 82 games and become one of Melbourne's most important players – has him well positioned to join the leadership group skippered by Nathan Jones.

Melbourne is set to name its leaders after its first or second NAB Challenge match, their campaign kicking off against Port Adelaide at Playford Alive Oval in Adelaide on February 27.

"I don't think you can force leadership, so either way if it happens, it happens – it doesn't change anything for me," McDonald said.

"But I would like to be part of the leadership group this year."