THE WESTERN Jets have produced some all-time greats of the game, while also laying claim to the production of a bunch of current elite level stars. In this All-Star Team of the AFL Era, Draft Central takes a look at how the best possible Jets side would line up, with a good field of players to select from over the last three decades.
Bombers fans should get a good hint of nostalgia with legendary premiership players Dustin Fletcher and Matthew Lloyd making up the spine of our side. There are a good number of medium-small types who have provided plenty of highlights in their time, particularly in the forward half, with versatility a handy attribute of the squad overall. Remarkably, 11 of the selected players are still in the midst of their AFL careers, as a good boom across the 2000s lifted the region’s standing. The team as a whole, particularly the starting 18 is strong on all three lines, and stands up among many of the other Victorian metro programs.
As mentioned, 400-gamer Fletcher slots in at full back to anchor the side, and is surrounded by some pretty handy support. The half-back flank pairing of Bachar Houli and James Sicily would prove a phenomenon in any modern-day lineup, with the former a two-time premiership player and one-time All Australian, while the latter is already a Hawthorn fan favourite. Two more current players, Adam Kennedy (GWS) and Kyle Hartigan (Adelaide) also earned their spots for over 100 games at the top level, along with former Demon, Daniel Ward.
Our proposed midfield core is strong, and features one of the more underrated players of the 2000’s, Heath Scotland at its heart. The former Pie and Blue was perhaps better known for his work off half-back and on the outside, but won plenty of ball and is the perfect leader to follow in the engine room.
He’s joined by expansion club marquees Callan Ward and Michael Rischitelli at the centre bounces, with both adding to the hardness of the side. Ward continues to go strong despite injury troubles, while Rischitelli has recently retired. Majak Daw is the ruckman they’ll feed off, with his journey back into the North Melbourne side one of the greatest sporting stories of the year.
On the wings, former Shannon Grant of Sydney and North Melbourne fame is joined by maligned Bulldog Lachie Hunter. Both are able to rotate through slightly different roles, but feature on the outside of a relatively solid midfield group.
You’d be hard pressed to find a much better full forward to base your attack around than Lloyd, who is the centrepiece of an exciting six-man forwardline. At his feet is Brad Johnson, one of the Western Bulldogs’ greatest players of all time. Not only did the pair boot nearly 1500 goals between them over their careers, but they also co-hosted the Auskick’n Around TV show on Fox Footy during the early-2000’s.
Johnson’s long-time teammate Daniel Giansiracusa features at half-forward, while current players Cam Rayner and Will Hoskin-Elliott bring some high-marking power and goal sense to the forward 50. Mature-aged success story and four-club veteran James Podsiadly rounds out the six, slotting in at centre half-forward as a very handy key position option.
A pair of Port Adelaide players have snuck in on the bench, with young livewire Zak Butters joining ‘The Cannon’ Trent McKenzie as solid depth. Josh Mahoney and Craig Ellis were solid players in their day and get a look-in, while cult figures Ty Zantuck and Lance Picioane also make the cut-off, certain to bring even more nostalgia to 90’s kids. Brent Prismall was a player right on the precipice, while the likes of Liam Duggan, Jayden Laverde, Corey Ellis and Daniel Venables could all enter the fold in future.