Cameron Mackenzie St Kilda Academy Height South Africa Dad

By on November 22, 2022 0

Cam Mackenzie might be the most balanced prospect in this year’s AFL Draft class – both on and off the pitch.

Mackenzie is a reliable, well-rounded on-baller with the ability to win the ball inside and out alike. He has excellent vision, balance and careful disposal, but also possesses a solid ball game and great stopping flurry – a trait he has worked on meticulously over the past 12 months. At 188cm he can also play in any third of the pitch.

Off the pitch, he has a measured temper and speaks with impressive articulation. Yet he is also a great listener and always eager to improve as a player and a person.

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“If I don’t say anything, I’m just trying to lead by example and set the standard with the intensity of training and the competitive side as well. But on a matchday, I’m convinced we want the team succeeds, so if someone is in the wrong position, I will make sure to tell them,” he said.

These traits have helped Mackenzie produce an ultra-consistent 2022 season where he has impressed – and improved – at every level he has played.

Now the Sandringham Dragons product – and St Kilda Next Generation Academy graduate – is emerging as a genuine top-10 contender for draft night.

Cameron Mackenzie played in the NAB League Grand Finals. Photo: Daniel PockettSource: Getty Images

Despite Mackenzie’s connection to the Saints – his father Rob was born in South Africa – the club cannot match a bid on him until the Pick 40 – a rule which has been introduced in recent years. But there’s a chance he could still be on the board in the Saints’ first draft – if the Hawks, Cats and Eagles ignore him before Pick 9 (not counting Will Ashcroft’s offer) – and they would surely consider taking it.

Mackenzie’s surge in the top 10 calculations began to pick up steam after his strong start to the 2022 campaign, averaging 21.8 eliminations in his first four games.

Interest from the AFL club has intensified.

“That was definitely the plan, to have a good first four games to show what I could do and play well. Then if everything goes to plan you get your name out there and the clubs are more interested in you if you starting to play well,” Mackenzie said.

“After those first four games, I definitely noticed that was probably the time when clubs really started to get interested and ask more questions.”

Cameron Mackenzie was part of the Australia Under-18 squad. Picture: Dylan BurnsSource: Getty Images

Mackenzie’s production only got better from there. He averaged 25 touches for Vic Metro to earn All-Australian honours, then netted two goals from 26 takedowns in Sandringham’s NAB league grand final.

The 18-year-old’s improvement over the past 12 months has been significant.

“One big thing I noticed at the end of last year – and something I wanted to work on – was my outside game,” he said. “I recognized that improving that speed was going to go a long way towards seeing improvements in my own game this year.

“So I worked a lot with the strength and conditioning coach at school during the summer period last year. Mainly that lower body strength, plyometric training and just working on that power.

“I noticed that at the start of testing my 20m test was significantly better than the last time I did it.”

While non-Victorian clubs are particularly reluctant to sign Metropolitan prospects this year, they would be confident in drafting Mackenzie.

In 2016, Mackenzie and her family moved to France for a year in 2016, living in a small village in Nice. Mackenzie attended a purely French school, which made the first few months a difficult experience.

Cameron Mackenzie of Vic Metro. Picture: Dylan BurnsSource: Getty Images

But 12 months later his French had improved dramatically – to the point that he was keen to study the language as a subject when he returned to school in Australia. He hopes French will be one of his top performing subjects when the Grade 12 results are released next month.

“I managed to hold him down pretty well… he’s got a huge bonus on ATAR,” he laughed.

“Having that experience of living abroad makes the idea (of moving interstate) less daunting. My preference is probably to stay in Melbourne but I just want to play footy and if I had to play interstate I would definitely rise to the challenge and make a big impact and help the team succeed.

Mackenzie’s goal will soon be to become a full-time footballer – a prospect, he says, he is mentally and physically prepared for.

And he vowed to have an immediate influence at the AFL level.

“I’m ready and I think I can take the next step and be part of an AFL environment and make an impact soon enough,” he said.

“That’s definitely the goal, if I get the chance, to not only go and impress, but also make an impact fairly early in my career.”