A move back into the forward half has paid dividends for Jack Henderson, with the former Deniliquin Rams junior being named in the VFL Team of the Year last week.
In just his second year playing in the VFL with Werribee, the defender-turned-forward managed 24 goals from 20 appearances, but it was his tackling pressure that had him selected in the squad.
The 19 year-old laid 77 tackles in 18 games during the home and away season, averaging 4.27 tackles a game, with his best performance coming against Frankston in round eight where he laid a whopping 10 tackles.
“I was a bit surprised to be a part of the squad," Henderson said.
“I know the league sends out invites to the clubs, but I honestly thought I was just an extra to fill a space on the table.
“Our forward line has been going really well this year, so without my teammates I don’t think this would be possible.”
The honour put a positive spin on what was a tough week for Henderson, with the Big W eliminated from the finals race after a three-point loss to Essendon.
The young forward was still upbeat following the loss, however, saying his side’s bounce back from finishing 11th on the ladder last year was a step in the right direction.
“The ultimate goal is to win a flag, so we were obviously quite disappointed after the game," Henderson said.
“But in saying that, to play finals was an amazing experience.
“North Port Oval has a lot of history, so to be given the chance to play there in front of large crowds was insane.”
Henderson has had an impressive first two seasons at VFL level, playing in every game for Werribee since his debut in round one last year.
With his consistent game time at one of the highest levels of footy in the country, Henderson still holds hope that he can find his way onto an AFL list one day.
“I’m going to keep pushing for a spot on an AFL list," he said.
“In this day and age it’s more common for a side to take a punt on someone who has a few years of experience in the VFL, so that gives me confidence and more motivation to keep chasing the dream of playing AFL.
“Right now I guess I’ll be focusing on uni before we get back into pre-season in November.
“I’ll be sticking around Werribee next year (if I’m not drafted), and it will be interesting to see how we go.
“There will be a bit of a turnover of players next year, but I’m sure 'Chocco' (Werribee coach Mark Williams) will get us up there again.”