17/04/2024

Trent McKenzie. Picture: portadelaidefc.com.au

Trent McKenzie's career has seen its ups and downs, but it's again on a high as he prepares to lock down Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins once again in a Qualifying Final.

Just under a year ago, Trent McKenzie was standing Tom Hawkins in a Qualifying Final in Port Adelaide’s defence.

This week, he’ll do it all again as Port once again faces Geelong for an automatic pass into the preliminary final.

Speaking with The Inner Sanctum prior to the game, the man affectionately known as ‘The Cannon’ thanks to his thunderous left foot, said he’s excited to get into his second finals series.

“It’s all come around quickly. I’m very excited obviously, it’s a big time of the year, it’s where you want to be playing, I’m ready to get into it,” he said.

Hawkins kicked five behinds in last year’s Qualifying Final at Adelaide Oval, and McKenzie said he’s well prepared to take him on again.

“I think this’ll be my third game against him now, I know him pretty well.

“He’s obviously a super player and he’s going to be a very hard matchup, but we’ve got some ways to counteract his influence on the game.

“He’s in some good form and it’s his milestone game as well, so he’ll be up in about, but I think we need the whole back six to be on, not just myself.”

It’s a remarkable turnaround for McKenzie, who just two years ago looked as if his AFL career was hanging on by a thread having played just two games in two seasons.

However, now he’s found himself as one of Port’s most important players in defence, playing 29 games with the club in the last two years, losing just five of them.

“It’s been a big turnaround, I suppose,” he said.

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“I knew I had to just keep working on my game and continuously improve.

“It was tough at stages early in my time here, but I knew I had to earn the respect of my teammates.

“I knew I wasn’t just going to walk in and expect to start straightaway so I did have to work hard and I’m now starting to get some reward.

“I just had to find a few ways to break into the side.

“As far as my strengths have been more kicking and stuff like that, so I had to work on a few different ways.

“I tried to work on my defensive craft a lot and that seemed to help me well.

“I was doing the little things right, getting my body right, I had a few problems with injuries early days.”

McKenzie was one of the initial Gold Coast Suns back in 2011, and he said the change in coming from a start-up to Australia’s most successful football club has been remarkable.

“Yeah, it’s complete opposite to be honest,” he said.

“It’s a lot different trying to make our way in the AFL up on the Gold Coast and then coming here with just a rich history, massive supporter base and a big club.”

Port Adelaide’s clash against Geelong gets underway at 7.20pm at Adelaide Oval on Friday.

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