Before becoming the Round 7 Rising Star nominee, Jack Henry was another athletic proposition in the TAC Cup. He played alongside future Brisbane Lion Alex Witherden, who shares his experiences with the Geelong Falcons product in an exclusive AFLPlayers.com.au column.
I sat down at home last Friday night with a few mates and watched the Geelong and GWS game to see my mate, Jack Henry, play his sixth game of AFL footy.
We noticed he was playing with real confidence and going for his marks with his athletic ability which is really shining through. He’s come a long way.
I first met Jack when I was four or five years old. My parents were friends with Geelong VFL player Paddy Dowling’s parents and Jack was mates with Paddy.
We used to kick the footy around together in Paddy’s backyard. From there, I played in a premiership with Jack in the Geelong Falcons’ Under-15s.
He was always able to play a variety of roles from half-forward to wing or half-back, he had the athleticism to play anywhere.
He was into his athletics early on and we didn’t know if he’d choose that over footy or vice versa. As a bottom-ager, Mick Turner saw a lot of upside in him so he came in for a game late in the year. He might’ve only had 12 touches but his ability to fly for marks and contest as a hit-up forward was impressive.
With Jack, it’s always been about him having confidence in his own abilities. The Geelong coaching staff have instilled that confidence in him and given him a license to go for it in the air because his marking has always been a strength.
That aerial ability was evident in our Round 1 clash with the North Ballarat Rebels in 2016. That was the game where it came together for Jack and he was the difference in the end. We won by 28 points and Jack kicked five goals — he was jumping at everything.
We kicked 16.23 that day and Jack was one of the more accurate among us. That game gave him a lot of confidence because he always had the ability but for him to go out and do it was huge for his self-belief.
A great quality of Jack’s is his genuine personality. He’s always been quite introverted in the times that I’ve known him but he’s caring, humble and respectful.
It took until the end of his top-age year for him to finally come out of his shell a bit more. You never knew what he was doing in his personal life because he never spoke about it but his girlfriend used to live next door to me in Geelong so I used to catch him going to her house when I was heading home.
From first encountering him in the backyard to watching him on the big stage, it’s good to see Jack doing well — he deserves it.