Lions rookie adds some football smarts along with the muscle
OSCAR McInerney has made a concerted effort to add muscle to his usually slender 204cm frame.
Just don't expect the big fella to be sporting guns the size of Brisbane Lions teammates Stef Martin and Marcus Adams anytime soon.
One-time Western Bulldogs fullback Adams has been giving Martin, the resident man mountain, a run for his money in the gym during the off-season.
"He's pretty happy with himself on the bench," McInerney says of Adams. "He comes up and grabs it off you.
"I don't know if there's a rivalry, but they are certainly two of the bigger boys ... some of the tin that they can shift.
"I'm definitely trying ... there was a big focus on putting size on and so I attacked that in the off-season.
"I came back and threw on a few more kilos, but one of my assets would be my running so it's about finding that balance ... finding that weight I can compete at while maintaining my running."
Still only a rookie-listed member of the squad, McInerney, 24, was one of the Lions' many success stories last year.
The Victorian debuted in round six and would miss only one more match, nailing down a spot in the forward line - while offering Martin a chop-out in the ruck - and averaging almost a goal and three marks a game.
McInerney spent some time in Italy with his partner to refresh in the off- season but was itching to begin preparations for a campaign that promises so much.
"We finished the year so well .... it's quite a bizarre thing actually - everyone was just so excited to get back, everyone was in the gym before October, waiting for that preseason to start," he said.
As well as adding some size, McInerney has improved his football smarts, working with ruck coach Ben Hudson.
"From a ruck perspective we've pulled apart Dean Cox a little - that lean athletic type - and then pulled apart guys in the modern game like the Rory Lobbs, who spend a bit more time forward," McInerney said.
"How they go about using their height and not being pushed under the ball, and bringing the small guys like Charlie (Cameron) into the game.
"I'm developing that forward craft - because it was relatively new to me last year - learning the tricks."
McInerney has been fascinated by the continuing duel for the No.1 ruck spot between the veteran Martin and ever-improving Archie Smith, describing it as "healthy competition" between two "different beasts".
"For blokes who are vying for the same position, we're quite a close group," he said. "Stef's professionalism and body work is second to none - the learning we get from him - but Archie's preseason has been absolutely phenomenal.
"He's taken his game to another level. Just his attack at the centre bounce."
The Lions begin their JLT Community Series campaign tomorrow at Burpengary, where they host Hawthorn.
"We've built a really solid bank over the preseason. Now is the really exciting part - you get to find out where you're at," McInerney said.
"In previous seasons we've started pretty slow, so we're pretty keen to really start our season now ... executing our plans, setting up our structures. It's a chance to really set our season up."