Breakout Greater Western Sydney midfielder and Canberran Jack Steele will head home for the Giants’ AFL clash with Geelong at Manuka Oval, but the 19-year-old says it’s a homecoming he hasn’t been expecting so soon.
Going to watch occasional North Melbourne and Sydney games at Manuka as a boy, Steele said he never expected to return to Canberra as an AFL player, let alone for a club that did not exist at the time.
“I never really thought about it, to be honest,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“I always dreamt of the ‘G. But I can’t wait to play my first game there.”
Steele has been a standout of Leon Cameron’s side in the past month, covering ably for the Giants after a number of injuries to key players including co-captain Phil Davis, defender Joel Patfull and ruckman Shane Mumford.
With only four appearances under his belt, Steele said running onto the field with bona fide AFL stars and premiership winners remained a surreal experience.
“It’s still a bit weird, playing, matching up with players of that calibre, so it should be exciting,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to it.”
Coach Cameron said playing against one’s idols is a rite of passage for every young AFL player, and backed Steele to shine in midfield against big-name opposition.
“Everyone starts out their journey sometime,” he said.
“Bartel, Selwood, Enright, superstars like Kelly, all these guys would’ve played on their idols as well.
“But one thing I know, when the ball bounces, his competitive spirit comes alive, and the guys he plays against wouldn’t want any different.
“So Jack’s going to serve it up as much as he gets on the weekend.”