Jeka surprised to land at Cats

Emerson Jeka. (AAP Image/Rob Prezioso)

Former Altona junior Emerson Jeka has got a second life as an AFL footballer, taken by Geelong in the rookie draft.

Geelong selected the former Hawthorn tall with pick seven in Wednesday’s AFL rookie draft.

Standing at 198 centimetres tall, Jeka was initially selected by Hawthorn in the 2019 rookie draft. Jeka made seven appearances at AFL level, before being delisted at the end of the 2023 season.

He played 33 games across three seasons with Hawthorn’s Victorian Football League affiliate Box Hill Hawks, kicking 37.28, including 23 goals from eight appearances in 2021.

Prior to the draft Jeka had committed to Essendon’s VFL side and was expecting to play there in 2024.

“It’s been really interesting, I was really committed to Essendon,” he said. “I had a session with them on Monday, so I was fully committed to there and I didn’t think that I would end up there.

“I got a call about five minutes before [the draft] saying ‘we’re going to pick you up’, I was initially shocked but I’m really happy to be here.

“I think it’s going to give me the best opportunity to be a really good footballer.”

Jeka said he had more to give to the AFL with injuries derailing his 2023 campaign.

“Injures this year haven’t helped but I’m really fortunate that Geelong gave me an opportunity and I can really take that and give it 110 per cent,” he said.

The versatile player is still unsure what position he will be utilised in at the Cats. A key forward he has also had an impact down back for the Hawks.

“Wherever Chris (Scott, Cats’ coach) wants me to play,” he said. “I feel like that’s a strength of mine, I can play at both ends which is great.

“So, wherever they need me to play, I’ll do that.

“I feel like I play my best football down back, but I can be versatile and I can play some good football up forward.”