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Sheedy selects century's greatest

James Hird is a certain inclusion.

James Hird is a certain inclusion. Photo: Paul Rovere

Alex Jesaulenko, James Hird and Wayne Carey are some of the greatest to have ever played AFL and all come from Canberra and its surrounding areas. Greater Western Sydney coach Kevin Sheedy believes it won't be long before it returns to being a breeding ground of AFL stars.

On Friday Sheedy will announce plans to draw up a Team of the Century of VFL-AFL players from the ACT and southern NSW region, which make up the Giants' zone.

The former Essendon premiership coach thinks the AFL world needs a reminder of just how rich the heritage of the area is and will head a panel to determine the eventual team, which will be announced at the Giants' grand final lunch in Canberra in the lead-up to the last weekend in September.

Carlton's Alex Jesaulenko marks over Richmond player Barry Richardson in September 1969.

Carlton's Alex Jesaulenko marks over Richmond player Barry Richardson in September 1969.

Sheedy said the Giants weren't here ''early enough'' as the AFL overlooked what had been a traditionally rich breeding ground for stars.

The introduction of the Canberra Raiders and ACT Brumbies has led to a trickle of players being drafted out of the region in recent years.

But Sheedy was confident it wouldn't take long to turn that around and pointed to Narrandera's Zac Williams and Jacob Townsend, from Leeton, as proof.

Both started out playing league before taking up the indigenous game. Williams became the first player to graduate from the Giants' fledgling academy to make his AFL debut, and Townsend was taken by GWS as a zone selection at the same time as former Eastlake junior Josh Bruce.

''The selection of this team [of the century] is a reminder of the talent that has come out of this zone,'' Sheedy said. ''To find two players in two years, in Zac Williams and Jacob Townsend, and bring them up to AFL standard is unbelievable. Both those boys played rugby [league] in their respective towns as juniors.

''So in the long march into this zone, it's very important to reflect back on the history and this whole concept is a thank you to the clubs.''

The Canberra Times drew up a possible line-up dripping with talent from goal to goal, although the ruck stocks looked thin. It boasts 17 premierships, six Brownlow Medals and six Hall of Famers, as well as the mark of the century.

Sheedy was hoping the announcement would help the AFL world realise how many of its gun footballers came from here.

The master spruiker also took a cheeky shot at cross-town rivals Sydney Swans.

''When you find 12,500 members after one year … then you wonder what the Swans were doing,'' he said.

''Because there's 12,500 people who weren't a member of the Swans so at least we're heading in the right direction.

''That could build to 25,000 within the next five years quite easily and pack out the stadium in Canberra and pack out the stadium in Sydney.''

The Giants arrive in Canberra on Friday.

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