Werribee has locked down two of its breakout stars by re-signing Ryley Barrack and Dom Brew for the 2018 season.
Barrack, 21, and Brew, 20, have committed to a third and second season respectively at Avalon Airport Oval and what will be Werribee’s first as a standalone VFL outfit in 19 years.
The pair, who work together as commercial carpenters with DG Build, proved to be two of the club’s biggest success stories this year, their on-field exploits enough to earn them a joint appearance on Channel 9’s Future Stars program.
Barrack came to Werribee in 2016 via Mildura South and the Bendigo Pioneers TAC Cup program, playing five senior games in a variety of positions in his debut year before making a stunning breakthrough as a rebounding defender this season.
From his 16 games this year, he was named among his side’s best players on 13 occasions, which included a best-on-ground performance against Collingwood in round five.
He was ultimately edged out by star midfielder Matthew Hanson for club best and fairest by just two votes and has been touted by VFL.com.au as a potential AFL Draft prospect.
Barrack said he was “rapt” with his 2017 season and was looking forward to the opportunity to line up as part of a standalone team.
“To be honest, I didn’t imagine having the year I had,” he said.
“I just put my head down, had a good pre-season, punched from behind, and let whatever happened happen.
“I can’t wait to get into pre-season and put my best foot forward. We’re standalone now, so it will be the same group of boys around each other 24/7. It will be like a second home.”
After a handful of AFL Development League games in 2016, Brew officially joined Werribee this year with the encouragement of Jason Akermanis, his coach at Ovens and Murray League outfit North Albury.
While he had to wait until the round nine clash with the Northern Blues to break into the VFL side, his impact as a hard-nosed, in-and-under midfielder was immediate.
With just nine senior games to his name, he has already established himself as one of the competition’s most ferocious tacklers, averaging a whopping 15.7 tackles across his first six senior games.
An ankle injury curbed his output late in the season, but it wasn’t enough to prevent him being named Best First Year Player at Werribee’s best-and-fairest night.
Brew said he always believed he could have an impact at the VFL level through his hard-edged game and that his decision to continue on with Werribee was a straightforward one after the club showed the same faith.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to sign on,” he said.
“I’m pretty rapt with the club. They’ve shown me a lot of respect and helped me a lot last year. I owe them a fair bit, so I can’t be happier.
“[VFL football] was harder than what I first thought, but having good people like “Rock” (development midfield coach Shayne Stone) and Johnny (senior coach John Lamont) and blokes like Andy (psychologist Andrew Demetriou) and “Kersh” (senior midfield coach Matt Kershaw) helped me a fair bit.
“Some blokes bring their elite goalkicking or racking up a lot of possessions like Tom Gribble does, but my tackling and my attack on the ball are the two things I try to bring every week.”
Lamont was pleased both players had re-committed to the club after firmly establishing themselves at the VFL level this year.
“Ryley had a terrific season, finished runner-up in our best and fairest, and even generated a bit of AFL interest,” Lamont said.
“He’s got courage, he reads the ball well, he’s a solid kick, and he could really do well on an AFL list. We hope he might get that opportunity, but if he doesn’t, we’re really looking forward to him continuing to improve his footy with us.
“Dom’s ability to win his own ball, make it hard for the opposition to win the ball, and apply pressure to the opposition when they get it saw him get some really, really good numbers.
"He had a real intent to tackle and pressure and use his body, so he had a really positive impact and probably exceeded expectations.”
Werribee players officially confirmed for 2018
Michael Sodomaco (C)