News :
Home » » To hell and back: WA Demon Neville Jetta feels finals pain

To hell and back: WA Demon Neville Jetta feels finals pain

“The last thing I wanted to think about at the time was footy,” Neville Jetta says as he reflects on the days following Melbourne’s final-round capitulation last August.
The Demons had their destiny in their own hands, needing only to beat also-rans Collingwood in round 23 to secure the success-starved club’s first finals appearance since 2006.
But they coughed up six goals to one in the first quarter and never bridged the gap, opening the door for West Coast to scrape into the top eight by the barest of margins – 0.5 percentage points.
Melbourne players dealt with the heartbreak of the near miss in different ways. Jetta needed to get away from football.
The father-of-two packed up his young family and fled to the farthest corners of the country – first north to Cairns before spending time at home in WA’s south-west with his parents in Bunbury and relaxing on the beach at Eagle Bay.
“I was disappointed with the way we finished and shattered by the result,” Jetta said.
“I’ve been at the club for nine seasons and to go so close to playing finals definitely hit me pretty hard. I just needed to get out of Melbourne. It’s the footy capital and during the finals series you can get consumed by it.”
On a personal level, 2017 was by far Jetta’s best season to date.
The 28-year-old, who was axed at the end of 2013 and thrown a rookie-list lifeline by then-coach Paul Roos, rapidly rose from being tagged as one of the game’s most under-rated small defenders to being widely regarded as one of its best.
He finished top-five in Melbourne’s club champion award for the first time and was named in the 40-man All-Australian squad, going on to represent his country in International Rules.
But all the individual success couldn’t disguise the pain of a failed season Jetta said “proved we weren’t ready” as a developing team to play finals.
That burning fire has been fuelling the Demons’ efforts all summer as coach Simon Goodwin enters his second season in charge.
It hasn’t been without its speed bumps — a player-led revolt resulted in the club cancelling a so-called pre-season “torture camp” in December — but insiders insist the football department quickly refocused on the bigger picture.
“We know we’ve got to get better and improve,” Jetta said.
“We really want to play finals, but they don’t give out finals spots. We’ve done a lot of hard work to get in a position to give ourselves a good opportunity last season.
“But we need to do more to get in there and not only make the finals, but make an impact when we’re there.
“We’ve got a long road ahead of us to get there, but myself and the boys are ready for it and ready to put the hard work in.
“That’s all that we can control at the moment, doing our bit on the training track and working together as a team.”
A-grade leaders Nathan Jones, Jack Viney, Bernie Vince, Jordan Lewis and Max Gawn can all be relied upon to drive Melbourne’s finals bid.
So, too, can Jetta — now a cool-headed veteran of 116 games.
He expects the Dees’ main improvement to come from the growing band of young talent, highlighting Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca as those leading the charge to step up and become elite players.
And Jetta believes it is up to the senior group to “fast-track” their younger teammates’ development.
Then there is the addition of intercept king Jake Lever, the high-profile trade period recruit from Adelaide set to bolster Melbourne’s defence alongside Jetta.
“I’m always looking to improve and I think offensively I can still give more to the team going forward,” Jetta said.
“It does help, too, having Jake Lever come into the back six now. Having him will give us more stability and give us a bit more confidence in our attack, and he offers us that as well.
“We’re obviously not going to rush him into a new program, so we’ll look after him a little bit, but I’m sure he’ll be out there trying to lead the charge. He’s coming from a footy club that’s been a pretty good footy team over the last few years.”

Share this post :