By Lance Jenkinson
There is no better indication of draft-worthiness at the end of a junior football career than being shortlisted to attend the AFL Draft Combine.
Three Western Jets have drawn the attention of the AFL recruiters and invited to the combine in Melbourne during the first week of October.
Emerson Jeka, Darcy Cassar and Josh Honey were nominated by AFL club talent scouts to be part of a testing phase that will include elite juniors from across the nation.
Jets football operations manager Matthew Dervan said their inclusion was “a big tick” for the players.
“They’ve continually put themselves in the forefront of Vic Metro selectors, All Australian selectors and they’ve obviously been strong performers for the Jets over the past couple of years,” he said. “It’s a testament to their hard work, their attitude and their dedication.”
When the NAB League season is on, there is structure in a player’s week.
In the post-season, though, it is incumbent on the player and high-performance staff to work closely together to ensure the player is at peak fitness and clear of mind for draft testing.
“No matter where we’re placed as a team heading into the NAB League finals series and no matter where we finish up, those boys will continue to train the whole way through,” Dervan said.
“We’ll prepare them as best as possible to ensure they’re ready to go and they can put their best foot forward in all the tests that get presented to them.”
Jeka, an emerging key position talent, has been touted as a likely draftee since he was 16.
Mainly used as a key forward, Jeka has turned in some quality performances as a key defender in recent weeks.
“He just continues to show those glimpses of quality that could be a real asset to an AFL club,” Dervan said.
Cassar fits the mould of a typical modern day footballer. The utility seems at ease no matter where Jets coach Ryan O’Keefe deploys him, but has thrived as a half-back this season.
“I think he relished the role of being a bit of a general,” Dervan said. “He’s a bit of a quarter back – someone the side could give the ball to for a bit of run and carry.
“I think he’s someone who would just thrive at an AFL club environment in terms of taking it all in, wanting to learn and wanting to develop.”
Honey is one of the most exciting midfielders that will test at the combine. His ability to break the lines with his speed and use the ball effectively has become a feature for the Western Jets.
“When he’s got the ball in his hands, you always think something good is going to happen for us,” Dervan said.