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Turner, Erceg to be Swans' co-captains in 2024

Thursday, March 21, 2024 - 4:47 PM

Swan Districts will have co-captains once again for the 2024 WAFL season with dual Swan Medallist Jesse Turner joining Brandon Erceg who will enter his second year in the role.

There's great excitement surrounding Swan Districts coming into the new WAFL season and now the co-captains have been locked away to show the way for the squad.

Erceg is getting back to full fitness after leg and back surgeries in 2023 as he enters a second season as captain while Turner joins him for the first time officially as a skipper after being vice-captain in recent years but taking on extra responsibility for a lot of the 2023 campaign.


Turner has put in a power of work since making his debut for Swan Districts in 2015 to now be a dual Swan Medal winner, a state representative and now to step up officially as a co-captain of the club in 2024.

The 27-year-old has played 137 games with Swan Districts, has been named to the WAFL Team of the Year five times and he couldn't be prouder to be voted in as co-captain.

"Pruey pulled me aside and told me that I was going to be co-captain with Erc and I think it's something that when you first come in and start playing senior footy you never think you could captain the club," Turner said.

"You're just worrying about playing games or getting games, but I've been a vice-captain for a few years and started seeing myself more as a leader and have been trying to help others as much as I can and growing that leadership side of my game.

"Last year with Erc with being injured, Jonesy actually stepped down as captain so I did end up being captain for a lot of last season so that gave me a small taste of what it's like but to now be officially named a captain is a huge honour.

"I'm really proud to share it with someone like Erc who has been a great leader of our club, and I just look forward to doing the best that I can."

Turner is also delighted to be sharing the captaincy role with Erceg this season and can't think of anybody he'd rather be alongside in the position.

"In my first year in the senior program it was Erc's first year back and we both pretty much played reserves for most of that year, and we've both sort of had our struggles and battled through just to get picked to play league footy consistently," he said.

"We're very similar in the way we approach our footy and how driven we both are, but we can be quite different in terms of our leadership styles at times which I think actually works perfectly.

"We definitely both lean off each other and whenever we need advice we know we can go to each other and we have a great relationship like that both on and off the field. I couldn’t think of a better person to have alongside me as captain."

Turner has put in another power of work over the off-season both before official pre-season started as a team, and then when it did resume at Swan Districts so personally he is looking to continue to build on what he's been doing.

But on a team front, he can't help but be feeling excited about the Swans team he will be part of especially a midfield group still including Josh Cipro, Jackson McLachlan and Aidan Clarke while now including new additions like Nik Rokahr and Jye Chalcraft.

"I'm definitely feeling good and can't wait for the season to start. I'm someone who never seems to get sick of footy so as soon as the season ends I'm always quite depressed for the first few weeks and then I get over it," Turner said.

"But as soon as we're getting close to playing I get quite excited so for me personally I just can't wait to get into it and as a team we've lost a few boys, but we've picked up some boys from interstate and have also got a lot of younger boys keeping on coming through.

"It's always hard to know how you're going to go until the season actually starts even after the practice games, but I'm quite bullish thinking that we definitely expect to be right up there.

"We've been disappointing the last couple of years and the last two especially when we've rated ourselves at least a top five team minimum.

"We've lost a lot of close games and a lot of games we let ourselves down in, but this pre-season as a whole I've seen a big jump in the maturity of the playing group and the new boys who have come in have been unreal not just as players but as people.

"I think the second year under Pruey with his game style and the way he wants us to play will put us in a good position to succeed as well."

One of the big reasons why Turner is excited about what Swan Districts will be capable of in 2024 is not only the new arrivals, but the continued development of players from the Colts premiership of 2021, Reserves flag of 2023 and then those like Jehb O'Donoghue continue their growth.

"I think our depth from previous years to now will be our biggest improvement," Turner said.

"We've got a lot of boys who can go through the midfield with the key guys that we've got going through there, but then you've got someone like Jarvis who will play a lot on the wing.

"We've even got some of the young guys like Luke Kelly coming up who has done his real full pre-season with us and he's looking great. We've got Jehb who just loves to learn and has been doing tagging roles, but he will become an elite midfielder in years to come as he continues to learn.

"I think our midfield is definitely going to be our strong point now which I'm very excited about being a part of."


He might not have been out on the field as much as he hoped in 2023 being limited to seven games, but Erceg enjoyed the responsibility of being co-captain and is delighted and honoured to be entrusted to continue in 2024.

"Obviously I don’t take for granted having the opportunity to captain the club and what it means to have the confidence of the playing group and coaches," Erceg said.

"I definitely know that when I was growing up and even starting playing at the footy I looked up to guys who had captained like Tallan Ames, and Matty Riggio and Tony after that.

"You still pinch yourself at times that you're now in that role, but I'm very humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to lead the group again with Jesse."

Erceg has seen the growth in Turner as a player, leader and person over the past decade, and now couldn’t think of anyone better to be sharing the captaincy with in 2024.

"Not only has Jesse worked on his craft and his playing ability which we've all seen blossom over the past couple of seasons in particular, but he's also worked really hard on his leadership," he said.

"He was a vice-captain of the club so I think it was a natural progression and it's a credit to the work that he's put in not only on his game but the area of leadership.

"I've been playing with Jesse at the same time at the club for what is a 10th year in-a-row now and I've sort of seen him progress along and he has probably seen me progress along as well to a degree.

"I'm looking forward to sharing the captaincy with him and leading the group together, and I think we both bring different things that will help us do that job together."

There's never been any doubting Erceg's playing ability his entire career dating right back to his Colts football in 2011 but his body has continued to get in the way of him being out on the field as much as he'd like.

He did end up making his league debut in 2016 and has now played 66 games in total, but the frustrations of his body continued in 2023 with him requiring surgeries on both his leg and back.

If anyone is due a bit of luck, it's him and he's hoping that now that gone through all that gruelling rehabilitation that 2024 will be a better year on that front.

"No doubt it was frustrating last year and back in 2022 I managed to play a fair bit of the season, but it was under a bit of an injury cloud and then I got to only play the first five games last year," Erceg said.

"I had a couple of surgeries last year including one late in the year on my back so I've been rehabbing that over the summer along with when I was rehabbing my leg before.

"So it's been a good seven or eight months of rehab but I'm very close at the moment to being back to playing and I'm very much looking forward to that. Fingers crossed if I keep getting things right I'll get a full season out which is the aim obviously.

"I think I've got a handle on the back now and the ankle and leg was just sort of unlucky in terms of how it happened in the one incident, but hopefully touchwood nothing like that happens again and I can manage the rest of the body to get through."

While every club will be thinking their prospects are looking good at this time of the year, for Swan Districts there is plenty of reason for everyone involved to be optimistic about what 2024 will hold.

After all, they weren’t too far away in 2023 and that was a season where plenty went wrong in terms of a host of early heartbreaking losses and then a horror run with injury right along the way.

With a bit more luck and then topped off with some high quality recruits and the core group that has remained, then there's a lot of reason for Erceg to be excited about what the season will hold.

"You don't want to get too carried away at this time of year in terms of results in pre-season games or anything although it is better to be winning those than losing," he said.

"But I think it's more about even though we did lose some guys, we've brought some guys in from over east but we've also got Jake Pasini coming back to the club along with Bryce Watson so that's some serious talent there.

"I think the thing that is the most exciting is that we've got better midfield depth than I've probably ever seen in the club in my time but also it's the maturity of the group in terms of the way they've gone about it.

"I think Pruey in his second year as coach will help the guys know what we want to do in terms of our game plan, and how we want to play and that's really come through with the way the guys have gone about training and the first two pre-season games.

"It feels like guys have a better grasp of things and there's a bit more maturity amongst the whole group."

While Erceg is excited with the new additions to Swan Districts in 2024, he is also buoyant on their prospects because of the depth that is helped by those developing from the Colts Premiership team of 2021 and Reserves Premiership side of last year.

"The other part of that is the depth that we've got as well and I don’t think I've ever seen so many guys committed and training in the off-season before our pre-season training ever starts like what happened this year," Erceg said.

"A lot of these guys who came through the Reserves premiership and a few that played in a Colts one as well, they've taken some serious strides and have really bought into what we want to do and are trying to achieve.

"I think if you add all those things together it definitely is the most exciting feeling there's been at the club for a while. We still obviously have all the work to do in front of us, but we have as good an opportunity that we've had in quite a while if we want to take it."