Wayne Carey with Kevin Sheedy on Thursday. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Retiring Greater Western Sydney coach Kevin Sheedy has apologised to Canberra for the way the AFL and some of its clubs have treated the nation's capital in the past, and says he wants the ACT-southern NSW team of the century to be an inspiration for the next generation of Canberra footballers.
Sheedy came up with the team concept as part of Canberra's centenary and it was announced at Thursday's inaugural Greater Western Sydney grand final lunch, held at the Arboretum.
He said the team highlighted how many great players came out of the region - players such as North Melbourne's Wayne Carey and Fitzroy's Haydn Bunton snr: a modern-day great and a legend of the past. ''I think the side is a magnificent side out of this area,'' Sheedy said.
AFL ACT and Southern NSW Team of the Century
Back-pocket: Barooga's Bernard Toohey played for the Cats, Bulldogs and Sydney Swans.
''I don't think it should be dismissed and I think it should be put up in the hall of fame here in Canberra, so the kids here can really understand the greatness of players that come from southern NSW and the ACT.''
Wherever you looked around the room, you could not help but spot a star.
Whether it was Hawthorn greats Dermott Brereton and Robert DiPierdomenico, Geelong premiership captain Tom Harley, full-back of the century Stephen Silvagni or Brisbane Lions triple premiership winner Luke Power.
And even those greats were surprised at the talent that came out of the ACT.
''Some of the players up there, I didn't realise they were from NSW [and Canberra],'' Brereton said.
''I thought, 'No [they can't be], oh, they are'.
''Amazing team, I grew up in the '70s loving football and seeing the likes of Alex Jesaulenko.''
And Sheedy thinks the Giants currently have a future great on their list.
''We've found one in Zac Williams,'' he said.
''I think Zac Williams will be one of the best players to come out of this zone - a young indigenous boy from Narrandera and I think he's exciting.'' Williams became the first person from the Giants academy to play in the AFL when he made his debut against Gold Coast in round five this season.
He managed 11 games in his debut year and Sheedy thinks he is going to get better and better.
Williams started out playing rugby league before deciding to make the switch to Australian football.