LUKE McDonald has wasted little time repaying North Melbourne's faith at last year's draft, with the young defender claiming the round four NAB AFL Rising Star nomination.
The Kangaroos' father-son selection delivered an assured defensive performance in North's 43-point triumph over the Sydney Swans on Sunday.
McDonald collected 20 touches, including seven contested, and held five marks in driving rain to help the Roos to a third-straight win.
"I was very, very happy to get the nomination," McDonald told AFL.com.au on Monday.
"It definitely gives you a bit of confidence that you've been recognised.
"But I suppose the main thing is that your coaches are happy with you and your teammates like playing with you.
"I've been getting pretty good reviews from the coaches, so that's the main thing.
"I'm thoroughly enjoying it, and it's even better now that we're winning."
The 19-year-old has played every game in 2014 and already looks like he belongs at the level.
The son of Donald – a 155-game forward/ruck at North – served a long apprenticeship training at Arden St and played for the Roos' VFL-affiliate Werribee last season.
"It's just awesome to finally wear the stripes," McDonald said.
"I think my year last year with Werribee has really helped me just throughout the whole pre-season and the start of this year.
"But once I got out there (for my first game against Essendon) there wasn't anything like it.
"Just the crowd, because it was at Etihad, it was just echoing – everything was going crazy. It was really exciting."
McDonald has impressed many observers with his level-headedness on the last line of defence, and with his maturity to move on from mistakes.
On debut, McDonald's dream first kick in AFL quickly turned into a nightmare.
Clearing the ball from defence, the left-footer's pass smacked into the chest of Paul Chapman, who slammed the first goal of the game back over McDonald's head.
"That first kick … it's funny, even though I turned it over and kicked it straight to 'Chappy', I felt heaps more relaxed that I'd actually had a kick and got it out of the way," McDonald said.
"If I could have it over again, I'm sure I would just bomb it down the line. But I just had to get on with it.
"It was disappointing, but it was good to bounce back and go all right after that."
McDonald finished with 14 possessions on that dark Friday night for North, and has since gathered 19, 23 and 20 touches to help the Roos bounce back in style.
"We were pretty flat after round one, that was a pretty long week," he said.
"But the last three weeks we've started to play some good footy, so everyone's in a good place at the moment."
McDonald, last year's No.8 pick in the NAB AFL Draft, is the Roos' fifth Rising Star nominee in the past five years – joining Jack Ziebell, Ryan Bastinac, Sam Wright and Aaron Mullett.