Box Hill Hawks recruit Nathan Mullenger-McHugh knows what it takes to make the highest level.
And he’s desperate to give it another crack.
Despite being moved on after two seasons at the Western Bulldogs, since being selected as their first pick in the 2016 Rookie Draft, the rangy tall believes he has received a new lease of life since arriving at Box Hill.
“Max Bailey was a big factor why I came down to the club. He is a big, tall and humble man…I have a lot of respect for him,” Mullenger-McHugh said.
“They’ve had a lot of success over the years with Hawthorn, and it has obviously flowed down and created a great culture.”
The former Bulldogs rookie is widely acknowledged to possess impressive aerial ability, strong hands and electric speed.
But, according to Mullenger-McHugh, it is his determined competitiveness and aggression to the contest that remain his most vital strengths.
The 21-year-old boasts maturity well beyond his years and believes his two full seasons in the VFL system at Footscray will help him guide his young teammates.
So impressive is his character, that the Hawks have catapulted him into the leadership group in his debut season at the club.
“Obviously pretty special to get the role and respect from all the boys coming into a new club,” Mullenger-McHugh said.
“I was a bit nervous coming in; I didn’t know too many people.
“But they’ve been really welcoming from the start, and the close-knit brotherhood of the whole club has impressed me.”
Mullenger-McHugh has displayed promise as a versatile utility over his short career. However, now the 196cm key position player is determined to make his mark in the Hawks coveted forward line.
“The last two years I’ve played as a utility, forward and back, just changing heaps,” he said.
“This preseason I’ve mainly been working on my forward craft, so I expect to stay up forward.
“Hopefully I can explore my strengths and take them to the next level this year.”
Box Hill will wrap up its pre-season when it takes on Werribee at 2pm on Saturday at Avalon Airport Oval.