Roos ‘saved my career’
After a decade at the top level Bunbury-raised footballer Neville Jetta will finally play his 100th game for the Melbourne Demons on Sunday.
Jetta will be an integral part of the Demons’ defence this weekend when they take on Essendon at Etihad Stadium.
Jetta was drafted by Melbourne in 2008, but failed to play more than 16 games in a season during his first five years in the AFL as a small forward.
Falling out of favour with the club, Jetta was delisted, but the club gave him a lifeline and he was re-drafted as a rookie.
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Enter Paul Roos, who took over as coach in 2014 and decided to move Jetta into defence where he has thrived ever since. He was even chased by other clubs through last year’s free agency period.
Jetta said a 2013 game when he played as a small defender on Western Bulldogs forward Luke Dahlhaus, convinced the incoming coach he had more to offer.
“He (Roos) saw enough to convince the club to keep me around,” he said.
“He is partly the reason I am still playing AFL footy.”
Jetta said he considered walking away from the AFL after being taken off the main list, but decided to give it “another crack”.
“I gave it my all again and it turned out better than I could ever imagine,” he said.
The 27-year-old never thought he would reach the 100-game milestone at the end of 2013, but was proud to have served his club for a decade.
“At the time the club wasn’t going well and I wasn’t playing good footy because of form and injuries,” he said.
“When I was put back on the rookie list, I thought I would give it one more year and if I got another two or three then so be it.
“But to play 100 games, I am really proud.
“I would not want to be anywhere else.”
Jetta said he had learned a lot about his game in the past few years.
“You learn what works and what doesn’t,” he said.
“But I am still learning and I feel I have got a lot more to give.
“The teammates around me gave me a lot of belief in myself.”
Jetta was drafted to the Demons alongside fellow Bunbury draftee Jamie Bennell, with the pair part of a golden era for the Swan Districts colts sides in 2007 and 2008.
In 2008 nine players were drafted from Swan Districts and Jetta is one of just four players still on an AFL list.
“It was good fun to play at Swans and in Bunbury,” he said.
“I enjoyed playing with guys like Jamie (Bennell), Lewis (Jetta) and Michael Walters,” he said.
Despite losing their past three games, Jetta believes the Demons are still playing good football.
“In the last three weeks we have been close, but just not good enough to get the win,” he said.
“We have been in control for periods of time, but just have not got there.
“But it is about growing as a team and finding a way to win.”
Bennell stopped short of saying Melbourne could play finals for the first time since 2006.
“We don’t want to put a cap on it,” he said.
“I want to be here when we do get success.”
Jetta will become the first South West footballer to play 100 games for the Demons since Darren Kowal, who played 105 games between 1992 and 1999.
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