Jack Henderson has reached his goal of being a Victorian Football League starter, being selected in Werribee’s best 22 for their clash against Collingwood tomorrow.
The former Deni Rams junior showed he has a bright future at VFL level with some impressive performances during a four-week stint as the ‘23rd player’ for the Tigers.
Henderson saved his best performance for last in the month of matches, claiming best on ground honours for his side in Saturday’s 38-point loss to Richmond at Avalon Airport Oval.
His strong form could see him retain his spot in the side as a starting 22 player, with his role as 23rd man coming to an end.
The 23rd man rule allows VFL clubs to have one player who was a part of the previous year’s TAC Cup season play in addition to the regular 22 players for four games.
When not selected as part of Werribee’s best 22, the 18 year-old will line up for St Mary’s in the Geelong Football League.
‘‘I’ve loved every minute of playing in the VFL, it’s been an awesome experience,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a big step up from under-18s footy and I’d love to play as much as I can.
‘‘I feel pretty privileged to have earned this spot and coming up against a big club like Collingwood is a big learning curve for me.’’
Henderson has proven he has what it takes to compete at VFL level, with Werribee coach John Lamont showing his faith in the 18 year-old to take on some of the league’s best.
In round one he was given the task of shutting down Geelong Cats draftee and former Falcons teammate Gryan Miers in the Easter game at Torquay.
He was named among Werribee’s better players, finishing with 11 disposals, five marks and five tackles and keeping Miers, who kicked two quick goals in the first term, goalless in the last three quarters.
In Werribee’s return game to Avalon Airport Oval against Casey Demons in round two, Henderson finished with 13 disposals, two marks and five tackles.
In his final two outings as 23rd player, Henderson has had tough assignments against livewire Williamstown forward Lachie Schultz and Richmond AFL listed speedster Shai Bolton.
While Schultz was a handful at times for Henderson, he learned from that experience, keeping Bolton goalless and restricting him to eight disposals.
Henderson collected nine disposals and took five marks in a stellar defensive performance that earned him best-on-ground honours.
‘‘While we didn’t get the win, it was personally a great game for me,’’ he said.
‘‘It was made even better when (former Deni Rams player) Sam Lloyd was named to play against us.
‘‘Every time he ran past me he gave me a bump with a grin on his face and we even lined up on each other for a little bit. It would’ve been the last five minutes of the game when I played on him.
‘‘In the first quarter I got near him as well when he missed a shot at goal and I yelled out ‘go back to the twos at Deni Rams’ which he laughed at.’’
Werribee’s game against Collingwood will be held at Avalon Airport Oval in Werribee at 5pm tomorrow.