All Australian honours for key defender Buku Khamis was the highlight for the Western Jets’ star six representing Vic Metro at the AFL under 18 national championships.
It was overall a mixed bag for the Jets players, with some producing football to savour and others being struck down with injuries.
The talk of the Jets was undoubtedly Khamis, who was named in the backline in the team of the championships.
The St Albans product, who was born in South Sudan, would have caught the eyes of the recruiters for his athleticism, intercept marking, reading of the play and kicking efficiency.
“I think his first three games were excellent,” Jets coach Torin Baker said.
“He showed what he is really good at: his aerial work was excellent, his kicking was one of the most efficient over the championships and he took his good TAC Cup form into the championships and showed what he can do.”
Xavier O’Halloran is known as a work horse and a leader in the midfield at the Jets. The St Bernard’s youngster showed both of those qualities and more as captain of a Vic Metro side that fell one game short of a title.
O’Halloran was never too far away when Vic Metro needed a lift at a crucial part of a game.
“The reports on him were that they were really pleased with the way that he led the team and his commitment,” Baker said.
“They had some close games and Xavier really stood up at some important times.”
Zak Butters would be delighted with his decision to postpone a shoulder operation until after the championships.
It was a slight gamble for the Darley teenager, knowing a subluxation of his shoulder could occur at any time, but he pulled through most of the championships and showed his qualities in the midfield for Vic Metro.
Butters did have his championships ended prematurely when his shoulder did become dislocated in the final game, but he surely did enough to impress the recruiters.
“Considering his shoulder did pop out first in November, to get through to this stage, he’s got to be happy,” Baker said. “Medically he was cleared … To do what he’s done this year has been a credit to him.”
Stefan Radovanovic was used in a deep defensive role for Vic Metro. Radovanovic, from Keilor, stuck to his task and was a driving force out of the backline.
“Stef played three out of the four [games]and he played his role in all three,” Baker said. “He was really good in the one-on-one contests.”
Daly Andrews, who hails from Werribee Districts, and bottom-ager Emerson Jeka, from Altona, were the hard luck stories.
Andrews produced an eye-catching performance against the Allies, but suffered a blow to the head and had delayed concussion, which ruled him out of the championships, while Jeka was due to make his Vic Metro debut, only to be sidelined with hip soreness.