Bright future for bottom-age Western Jets

Cameron Rayner has produced 12 goals in his past two matches for the Western Jets. Picture Damian Visentini

The training wheels are off for two bottom-age stars of the Western Jets.

The immensely talented Cameron Rayner and Lachlan Fogarty have long been heralded as players to watch for 2017, but their progress has accelerated in the TAC Cup in recent weeks as they show they’re here and now for the Jets.

“It’s great to see them be able to produce those kinds of performances,” Jets’ coach Torin Baker said, noting the pair’s influence in Saturday’s heart-stopping seven-point loss to Calder Cannons at Craigieburn’s Highgate Recreation Reserve.

Rayner has shown that x-factor for the Jets in the past fortnight. The 16-year-old thrived with every challenge thrown his way, in the midfield and up forward.

“He’s in very good form and it’s good for him to have a couple of good games at the end of the year because he doesn’t get to play here too often,” Baker said. “He’s good in the air but he’s very dangerous at ground level as well.”

There is nothing like a swag of goals to put your name up in lights. Rayner proved the previous week’s seven-goal show against Bendigo Pioneers was no fluke, putting on five more against the Cannons … 12 goals in two games and Rayner is suddenly the Jets’ leading goalkicker, but his value is not just in his finishing.

The goals have been a byproduct of his ball winning ability in traffic, consistent marking on the lead and in the contest, and his defensive efforts.

Rayner has only played seven games for the Jets, but has shown a well-rounded game. Fogarty has also used the past two outings to give fans a glimpse into his future.

The 17-year-old been a tireless worker in both directions in the midfield.

“His last two games have been outstanding,” Baker said. “His tackle pressure and work in close was fantastic today, as it was last week.”

Oscar Junker, rotating between onball and half back, and Brodie Romensky, a versatile midfielder, were the other Jet’s standouts.

Even with such noteworthy performers, the Jets still came up short against rivals Calder, a bitter pill to swallow as it meant the season’s ledger between the two would be split.

“We beat them early in the year by two points, and they got us by a goal today, so we’ve had two really good clashes,” Baker said.

This was the Jets last game of the season, but they will face Northern Knights in an exhibition match at Ikon Park on Saturday.

With both the Jets and Knights missing TAC Cup finals, the league decided to give the others a chance to play matches that showcase their young stars in front of AFL recruiters.

Unfortunately, the Jets will be without Jordyn Cotter, who broke his collarbone on Saturday, and captain Wilson Berry, who is doubtful after sustaining a neck injury.