Jets starting to jell ahead of season 2023
IT may not have been all smooth sailing throughout preseason, but the Western Jets are beginning to jell just in time for their latest Coates Talent League campaign. Assistant coaches started out in charge of training, but there is now a new mentor at the helm.
Incoming boys head coach Trent Dennis-Lane has now taken the reigns for 2023, and after a delayed introduction, talent operations lead Luke Williams says the squad is now coming together nicely.
“Since the Christmas break, Trent’s strengths as a coach in his caring nature and individualising the needs of players have come to the fore,” Williams said. “He’s gotten to know the players really well and they’ve created a bit of chemistry.
“We reduced our squad last week so we’re down to 45 on the track and training is starting to look pretty sharp and similar to how we like to play.”
The Jets qualified for a surprise finals appearance last season under Robbie Chancellor, spearheaded by leading top-age talent Logan Morris. Returning for his draft year, Williams says the key forward is the Jets’ “most talented” prospect, and has made strides in a preparation sense.
“He for me is our clear standout from a pure talent perspective,” Williams said. “He’s put an enormous amount of work into changing his body type and becoming a real athlete, and he’s done everything he can to prepare himself to have a good season.
“He’s improved from a conditioning point of view and on those areas that he needs to work on – getting up the ground a bit more, recovery at ground level, putting pressure on – to compliment his marking ability. So, he’s in a good space.”
Potentially taking a goalkicking load of Morris, and allowing him to present further afield are returning over-agers Jovan Petric and Jackson McMenamin. The former is tied to Collingwood’s VFL side, and both fit the developing tall criteria according to Williams.
They’ll be joined in the 19th-year category by Harrison Miller, a small forward who promises to provide a bit of leadership among the group. Currently, he is on the sidelines with a knee injury but should be back in around a month’s time to contribute on-field.
The Jets also lay claim to an array of balanced top-agers. Along with Morris, Diesel Moloney is a frontrunner for leadership roles, while the likes of Alex Tsia, Jake Smith, and Darcy Weeks will look to built on the promise shown in their respective bottom-age years.
“Alex Tsia has been in our program for a couple of years now, we fast-tracked him as a 16-year-old,” Williams said. “He had a bit of an interrupted season last year with injury and the like, but he’s better for it and he’s in a really good space at the moment athletically, so he’ll spend more time in the midfield.
“We’ve got Jake Smith, a big-bodied inside mid who came through our Futures program last year. He was kind of late to it all but had a couple of impressive games late in the season that brought his name to the attention of the industry. He’s still got a bit to prove, he’s not the finished product yet but he’s the out-and-out professional and he’ll do everything that’s asked of him.
“The other player I really like is Darcy Weeks, who played all of last year as well. He’s a lightly framed, evasive and skilful player… then there’s a boy by the name of Rook Barry. He’s got a basketball background so his football stuff with us has been, but he’s quick and evasive, very elusive and creative.”
With all their talent in tow, the Jets will kickstart their Coates Talent League season on Saturday March 25 with a clash against the Sydney Swans Academy at Highgate Recreation Reserve, before taking on a trip to Tasmania in Round 2.