Carlton fans have been keeping a close eye on this guy. Son of 1987 premiership player Warren McKenzie, Reece stands at 196 cm and 100 kg. Finally, the key forward they have been craving. There’s only one problem. Warren only played the 67 games for Carlton, thus Reece will have to prove himself.
So far, so good. In the first two games of this TAC Cup season, McKenzie averaged two and a half goals per game, 13 hitouts, five marks (three of those contested) and nine disposals.
There was something that worried supporters though. McKenzie showed a great amount of frustration on field. Yelling at trainers, swearing to himself and not following up the ball after a contest. McKenzie acknowledged these poor signs and attributed them to being frustrated at his own efforts.
“I’m really hard on myself. If I do something wrong, I get upset,” McKenzie said. It’s something that he’s working on and it is clear that his work ethic will get him over his mental battles.
Football fans started to take notice of McKenzie two years ago. He became a legend of Marcellin College with a 10-goal haul against Mentone. “It was a really wet day. I wouldn’t have predicted that I would have taken so many marks. By half time I’d slotted six and took quite a few marks. The last goal was special though. All the boys got around me after I kicked my 10th. “
The mystique from the legendary game and the pedigree that precedes him could easily turn him into an arrogant guy who believes that he doesn’t have to work hard to make it to the AFL. But he’s not like that at all.
Away from football, his passions are reading, watching movies and body building. He’s anything but arrogant, and in fact he’s a self admitted quiet type of guy.
His father has been a source of knowledge for the young lad. “He’s been a big part of my footy life. He’s always taken me to games, and even now I rely on him. I’m always trying to challenge him with questions and he just explains the intricacies of the game to me.”
McKenzie sees both sides of not being eligible for father-son selection. “I would have loved to have been, but at the same time, it gives me another motivation to try get to the AFL off my own back.”
Don’t think Carlton will forget about him though come draft day. McKenzie has participated in some father-son academies at the Blues, so they know how talented he is. Even if he is not drafted this year, there’s a high chance he could end up at the Northern Blues, as the Knights are their feeder club.
At this stage, McKenzie does not care where he goes, but his goal is to make it to the AFL.
A career in football was not always his goal, though. He gave up the TAC Cup last year to try and focus on basketball. He’d been to a competition where the aim was to get interest from American colleges and he’d played well to start to receive interest.
He started to sustain knee injuries and his passion started to fade. Basketball took a toll on him mentally and physically. From there, he saw AFL as an opportunity, so he went back to the Knights, the club he’d been at since he was 15.
McKenzie is an incredibly strong mark, and his leap makes him threat in the ruck. He’s creative around goals and knows when to look to give off a handball. At this stage, he’s not in the same bracket as the likes of Pat McCartin, Peter Wright, Hugh Goddard and Darcy Moore. But there is so much football left to be played, and with his potential, he will be a very interesting guy to follow.