Brad McKenzie says a “very honest and open conversation” with Brad Scott and the coaches will drive him to perform this season.
The skillful left-footer received a new deal for 2016, but admits there were some nervous moments heading into his post-season review last year.
“I was out of contract at the end of last year and I only played the one game, so it was pretty nerve-racking going into that (meeting). I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” McKenzie told NMFC.com.au.
“Nothing gets held back, which is good in a way, because it opens you up a bit and gives you some good focus points of what you need to do.
“I knew my second half of the year in the VFL they were very happy with. It probably went a long way to keeping me at the club this year, so I’m very thankful for that.”
After a disappointing start to the year, McKenzie starred in a midfield role after the mid-season break, earning him an AFL recall in Round 23.
“Half way through the year I sat down with the development coaches and just sort of nutted out what would make me play well in the VFL and give me every opportunity to play in the AFL,” he said.
“I nutted down on those focuses and took them into the games to try and have a good second half of the year in the VFL.
“I played midfield and just focused on work-rate and getting to contests and just lifting my fitness.
“The more I can get to contests, the more I can get the ball in my hands.”
Despite a strong finish to the season, McKenzie described his 2015 campaign as “very disappointing”.
“Maybe previous years I’ve sort of sat back a little bit and haven’t believed in myself fully, and that came up in the meeting up as well.
“I think I need to just believe in myself a bit more this year.
“I sort of started to believe in myself a bit more in the second half of the year in the VFL and thought I didn’t belong in the VFL for longer than the AFL, and that’s why I need to start doing the work because it goes towards my performance.
“I’m going into my fifth season now so I need to be more confident and believe I can be an AFL footballer. If you don’t believe you can be an AFL footballer, you’re no good being here.”
McKenzie has played just 23 senior games in four years, but is confident he is now better prepared.
“This year I’m a little bit lighter than last year, so I’ve been running a bit better this year which is improving my fitness obviously.
“Pre-season’s been really solid at the moment. Everyone’s in pretty good nick, so it’s going to be tough for spots coming into round one. I’ve just got to put my best foot forward.”