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Geraldton’s Judd McVee ‘soaking it in’ after thrilling win, breakout season and AFL Rising Star nomination

Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Oliver Henry of the Cats attempts to mark the ball against Judd McVee of the Demons during the round 15 match between Geelong Cats and Melbourne Demons.
Camera IconOliver Henry of the Cats attempts to mark the ball against Judd McVee of the Demons during the round 15 match between Geelong Cats and Melbourne Demons. Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Good things come for those who wait is a cliche that rings true for Judd McVee, who is enjoying a breakout season with Melbourne this year as they look towards another deep run into finals.

The Geraldton young gun was the round 18 Rising Star nomination after Melbourne’s thrilling one-point comeback win over the Brisbane Lions at the MCG, where he spent much of the night on livewire Lions’ forward Charlie Cameron.

Judd McVee and Jake Lever of the Demons celebrate winning the round 13 match between Melbourne Demons and Collingwood.
Camera IconJudd McVee and Jake Lever of the Demons celebrate winning the round 13 match between Melbourne Demons and Collingwood. Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

He kept Cameron to two goals while also recording 14 disposals of his own.

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McVee revealed on AFL360 on Tuesday he relished being part of such a close game.

“It was definitely unreal, I’ve never played in a close game like that and I definitely soaked it up,” he said.

“I was pretty close to (Jake Melksham) when he kicked the goal so I ran to him before (Christan) Petracca reminded us there’s still 30 seconds to go.

“It was very tense but I’ve got some great leaders down back with me and they just talk me through it and leave me to play.”

McVee has played every game this season since debuting in round 1 and has become an integral part of Melbourne’s defence, impressing in his one-on-one play.

Judd McVee at Optus Stadium after Melbourne's win against West Coast.
Camera IconJudd McVee at Optus Stadium after Melbourne's win against West Coast. Credit: Melbourne Football Club/RegionalHUB

He was taken by Melbourne at pick no. 18 in the 2021 rookie draft and spent the 2022 season playing for Casey in the VFL and was a key part of their premiership last year.

McVee is currently ranked ninth in the league this season for one-on-one contest wins, losing just two so far.

He said his sporting family and playing hockey at a young age had helped mould his game.

“We are a real sporting family, we all played like four sports each growing up,” he said. “Mum and Dad were really into hockey and Pop was pretty good at footy, so I reckon that’s where I get it from.

“I think (backline coach Troy Chaplin) gives me a bit of licence to have fun on offence but my main role is to win the ball from the contest and then go from there.”

The 185cm defender admitted he did not expect to play this year but was proud of his achievements so far.

“When I got the nod to make my debut I was just hoping I can make it to round 4 and play in Perth so my family and everyone could come to see,” he said. “But here we are, round 18 now and still playing, so I’m really proud of it.”

McVee said he was “stoked” with the nomination, describing it as “a bit of reward for effort”.

He put his composure during games down to a lot of kicking under pressure practice at training with fellow defender Christian Salem.

Chaplin said the club was loving McVee’s cool head and ability to win contests.

“He very rarely loses his feet or gets beaten,” he said.

“For a young kid to be performing like that is exciting for him and playing on some dangerous forwards. We’re really pleased with how he’s developing.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 14: Judd McVee of the Demons competes with Oscar McInerney of the Lions during the round 18 AFL match between Melbourne Demons and Brisbane Lions at Melbourne Cricket Ground, on July 14, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
Camera IconMELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 14: Judd McVee of the Demons competes with Oscar McInerney of the Lions during the round 18 AFL match between Melbourne Demons and Brisbane Lions at Melbourne Cricket Ground, on July 14, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images) Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

McVee signed a two-year extension at Melbourne in April, keeping him at the club until 2025.

The Demons currently sit fifth (11-6) and host finals hopefuls Adelaide this weekend at the MCG.

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