Central Coast Mariners may have caused a media frenzy with trialist Usain Bolt recently, but Shepparton has managed to sneak a lightning bolt of its own under the radar this season.
When Jordan McGregor gets up and going, the small forward can look more like a maroon and yellow blur than Shepparton’s number 29.
It is McGregor’s ability to turn on that searing pace at will that could help his Bears claim their first Goulburn Valley League premiership since 2000 when they venture out onto Deakin Reserve on Sunday to take on the might of Kyabram.
Whichever Bomber defender gets the job of lining up on McGregor will have to have his skates on, because once the young star finds space, he is extremely hard to stop.
‘‘I’m feeling nerves early on in the week, which is normal I guess, but I’m just trying to keep the mindset that it’s another game, just another game at our home ground,’’ McGregor, 19, said.
‘‘I’ll probably start on the pine, but after that I’ll jump on and when I’m out there just give it everything, as anyone will in a grand final.
‘‘For 100m I think my (personal best) is 11.6 (seconds). I try to (use that to my full advantage). Once I’ve got a paddock in front of me, that’s when I go for it.’’
McGregor’s lightning pace won him plenty of admirers last season — as well as the Pattison Medal for the best-and-fairest player in the under-18 competition — and has helped the rising star take the next step in his budding career.
After getting a taste for senior football with 10 matches from 2015 to last year, McGregor has locked down his role as a damaging small forward this season under new senior coach Sean Harrap, missing just two games at the top level and snaring 20 goals along the way.
‘‘I’ve loved it, absolutely loved it,’’ McGregor said.
‘‘Seany’s developed me and a lot of the young boys a lot just through game plans and how we want to play footy, so a lot of the young boys have stepped up.
‘‘That was always going to be the next step, going to the senior level and performing good at the senior level.
‘‘Playing all the games this year brought me great experience, so I feel like that is the big jump up because there are a lot of absolute gun footballers out there in the GV.’’
Shepparton’s youth seems to be jelling well with its more accomplished stars, creating what the Bears hope is a recipe for success come Sunday afternoon — and McGregor will lap up the entire experience of playing on the last day of the season in front of a roaring home crowd.
‘‘That’s what’s so good about our team. We’ve got obviously the senior players like Nick Allan and even Nik Rokahr and Benny (Davies) as well, and a lot of experience helps the youth in our team,’’ McGregor said.
‘‘I’m really excited for the challenge and excited to play in front of the big crowd, I’m absolutely pumped.
‘‘I remember as a kid Dad bringing me out here to Deakin with the grand finals and the atmosphere was just unreal, and now to know I’m actually playing in one is even better, so the feeling’s awesome.’’