Harry McKay 'vulnerability' called out amid Carlton struggles

The Blues star has been in a worrying form slump with the boot in 2023.

Pictured right is Carton coach Michael Voss and Blues star Harry McKay on the left.
Carton coach Michael Voss has praised his under-fire star Harry McKay for openly addressing his AFL struggles. Pic: Getty

Carlton coach Michael Voss has addressed the drama around his star goal-kicker Harry McKay after a brutally honest admission from the 2021 Coleman Medallist. The Blues have tumbled down the AFL ladder after losing six of their last seven matches, with McKay's inability to convert set shots coming in for particular criticism.

McKay has kicked 14.16 from 41 shots at goal this season - a far cry from the heroics that helped him become one of the game's deadliest marksmen in 2021. The 25-year-old has faced calls for him to be moved to a different position or even dropped to the VFL, with Lions great Jonathan Brown even touting him as a potential trade target for Sydney.

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The Carlton ace's preferred technique when having a set shot is to snap on his left foot, but that has not been working for him this season. Even kicking from long range and trying the traditional drop punt has failed him, with the Blues star's woes summed up by a horror 0.3 night last-start game against the Swans that included a shot that went out on the full.

“After the game, seeing parents, like seeing Mum’s face – she wears it, Dad wears it. Ash Hansen, our forwards coach, he wears it because of what I’m doing,” McKay said about his struggles on the Ben and Harry podcast he hosts with his twin brother. “I don’t necessarily think that’s fair – Vossy wears it and gets asked about it flat out because of what I’m not doing well at the moment.”

The candid admission solicited a response from Carlton's coach on Thursday, who praised McKay for having the "courage" to share his "vulnerability" with listeners. Voss said he was confident that owning his performances was a crucial step for the Blues key forward to rediscovering his goal-kicking form.

“I think it speaks more to his vulnerability that he’s prepared to have those conversations,” Voss said. “The fact he’s in a space to feel safe enough to be able to share that – I think it takes an enormous amount of courage to be able to share that.

“The collective world has had a view on his goal-kicking technique, and all I’ll say to that is sometimes simplicity is better than complexity.” One of the common suggestions around McKay's form is to play him as a ruckman, but Voss said he would rather McKay face his current predicament head on.

“These moments – sometimes there might be a need to step away from those,” Voss added. “I guess my experience over a long time is to step into those and just keep reinforcing what he needs to be able to do and keep backing that in, and he’ll make the adjustments needed.”

Seen here, Carlton AFL star Harry McKay.
Harry McKay's goal-kicking has been a cause for concern for Carlton in the AFL. Pic: Getty

Cats great sympathises with Harry McKay's plight

Geelong champion Tom Hawkins is among those who've backed McKay to rectify his dramatic slump in front of goals. Hawkins says he can sympathise with the Blues star after experiencing confidence issues early in his career before becoming a Cats legend.

"When you see a player lose a little bit of confidence in the way they're kicking, and they play your position; I love watching Harry McKay, he's one of my favourite players to watch, his brute strength and height just troubles defenders. But he'll be fine," Hawkins said.

"He will continue to do the work, because there's no doubt in my mind that he's doing it, and you'll find what works. It will be a thing of the past in 10 years' time."

Carlton's underwhelming season faces a tricky juncture, starting with Friday night's match against a desperate Melbourne side coming off consecutive defeats. The Blues then face in-form rivals Essendon, followed by a potential banana skin home game against the Gold Coast Suns.

with AAP

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