Deniliquin product devastated by postponement

By Jamie Lowe

The postponement of this year's VFL season has left Deniliquin's Jack Henderson in a world of unknown.

The VFL, like the majority of sporting organisations, announced that due to the Covid-19 pandemic it would not start its season until at least May 31.

Henderson was set for his third season with VFL club Werribee this year.

After a successful first season as a lock-down defender in 2018, but with former Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams taking over as coach last year, the former Deni Rams junior was moved to the forward half.

Henderson managed 24 goals from 20 appearances, but it was his tackling pressure that shone bright.

The 20 year-old laid 77 tackles in 18 games during the home and away season, averaging 4.27 tackles a game, to be named on the interchange bench in the VFL Team of the Year.

However, just as his star was starting to rise this year's VFL season postponement has had Henderson's dream of playing AFL footy put on ice.

His desperation to play footy became apparent when Henderson contacted Pastoral Times journalist Jamie Lowe recently to see if there was any local footy leagues still playing.

Unfortunately he was informed later that night AFL Goulburn Murray had announced that local leagues were advised to postpone their seasons as well.

“I was keen to see if there was any training happening in the area to keep touch with the footy,” Henderson said.

“We had done a full pre-season, had a couple of practice matches and then there was nothing.

“We still don't know the extent of how long the season will be postponed for.

“When I first heard about the news, it was complete devastation, because you don't know when you'll get to come back and also have the stress of everyone's health and wellbeing being at risk.

“When there was talks of potentially extending the AFL lists there was a bit of hope there, but obviously with the AFL also being postponed that doesn't look likely either.

“If the year eventually gets thrown out then that's another year down the drain of me potentially reaching the AFL.

“I have my training program from Werribee to do at home, so I just have to keep on grinding.”

Henderson and his teammates were looking to build on a strong showing last year, with the Big W making it through to the semi-finals.

It was this performance and the inclusion of new faces to the club that had Henderson believing his side could go even further this year.

“The feeling around the club was that we could definitely improve on last year,” he said.

“We filled a few holes and were looking pretty good on the track.

“The ones that I do feel for are those older blokes in the league.

“This could be their last year of footy and they may have already played their last games.”

Following the announcement of the season being postponed and with his university course being delivered online, Henderson made a temporary move back to his parents’ farm at Blighty.

It was an obvious move for him, studying an agricultural degree and doing on-the-job-training while completing his studies.

“I'm really enjoying being back home, so if there's any silver lining out of this situation it's that,” he said.

“I've always wanted to come back here and spend a big chunk of time with the family. I haven't been able to do that for a while because I'd been going to boarding school before I was playing footy at Werribee.

“Being on the farm has also been a big benefit for my training program for footy as well.

“Out here on the farm not too much has changed with the coronavirus pandemic in the sense of having to stay at home.

“I've got plenty of paddock to work with to do my running, while most of my teammates are from the city and are probably finding it a little bit harder.

“All in all this year won't be a complete write-off, I'll keep on working hard and keep pushing to reach that dream of playing in the AFL.”