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Swans midfield trio ready for State game

Saturday, May 18, 2024 - 1:52 PM

The Swan Districts midfield has been on fire so far this season and that has been reflected with Nik Rokahr, Jesse Turner and Jye Chalcraft all named in the final WAFL State team to take on the SANFL on Sunday.

The WAFL will take on the SANFL at Optus Stadium this Sunday afternoon in the 2024 State match ahead of the West Coast Eagles-Melbourne AFL match up later in the day.

The WAFL squad has now been trimmed to 26 players ahead of Sunday's match up with Swans' midfield trio Chalcraft, Turner and Rokahr all surviving the cut to remain on track to pull on the Black Swans jumper at Optus Stadium.

All three have been in outstanding form so far this season as well with Turner having another fine campaign with the two-time Swan Medal winner and co-captain for 2024 averaging another 31.2 disposals a game to date on the wing for the black-and-whites.

Turner is on track to play his third game representing Western Australia while Chalcraft and Rokahr have been rewarded for their outstanding starts to their first seasons playing in the WAFL at Swan Districts.

Chalcraft has made the move from playing with Geelong in the VFL where he was the reigning fairest and best winner. He has fitted into life in the WAFL instantly averaging 28.3 disposals a game so far in the Swan Districts jumper.

Then there is Rokahr who arrived at Swans this year on the back of a standout four years with Norwood in the SANFL which did include representing South Australia up against WA in State football.

He has been one of the stars of this WAFL season so far with the 29-year-old averaging 32.0 touches a game for the black-and-whites.

For Rokahr, he became a star midfielder at Norwood over the past four years having made the move to South Australia from Victoria, and along with playing in a premiership and winning two fairest and best awards, he also played in the SANFL's 2022 win over the WAFL.

That also took place at Optus Stadium and Rokahr is glad this Sunday's game will be played at the venue as well.

"When I was in SA obviously coming over and playing on Optus was a pretty cool experience so I'm more than happy it's being played there," Rokahr told 91.3 SportFM.

"It's a pretty rare opportunity to be able to do that and I know you could play at Leederville or Freo or wherever and it would still be special, but you get to play on those grounds during the season.

"So this is something a little bit unique to be able to play on Optus so I think it makes the State game that little bit extra special. I think all the players are pretty keen to get out there on Sunday and have crack."

Rokahr had a great experience playing for South Australia in that 2022 State game win over the WAFL at Optus Stadium, but he now is excited for the chance to be on the winning team once more in the black-and-gold jumper.

The SANFL have already played a State game this year as well against the VFL during the AFL Gather Round, but Rokahr is expecting a good running outfit representing the Croweaters.

"It feels a little bit surreal at the moment. I'm really looking forward to the challenge and obviously there's a lot of familiar faces and the coach of the SA team has coached me for the last four years," Rokahr said.

"I'm really looking forward to not only seeing them again but obviously going up against them and trying to beat them.

"Obviously since the VFL game they've had a few changes and unfortunately they've had a couple of injuries, but that's footy.

"Just going on what I've seen it looks like they've gone for a fairly quick side so it might not be as tall, but they've brought in some players with genuine speed. Their list in general is quality and we know they are going to be tough to beat."

Rokahr is still finding his feet in terms of living in WA and playing in the WAFL, but getting to know another new group of teammates he'll play with on Sunday has been nothing but a positive experience for him so far.

"It's been fantastic getting to know them all. It's a really great group of players who have been very welcoming," he said.

"Obviously on the weekends you're as competitive as hell to beat each other but once you're in a squad like this, that's all put to bed and we rally around each other.

"I can't speak highly enough of this group and I was familiar with a few of them from my time in SA playing against them but to be able to play with them is pretty special. I'm really looking forward to it."

Rokahr had a vision of what he thought playing in the WAFL would be like before making the move, but having already played country football back home in Shepparton, playing in the VFL along with in the Northern Territory and the SANFL, he is used to making adjustments.

The bigger grounds, warm weather still at this time of year and the speed of the games in the WAFL are something that do make it standout opposed to where else he's played, but he's happy with how he has settled in.

"The WAFL is a great competition and just from being over in SA and what we sort of hear about and the bit of vision we see, obviously the ovals are a lot bigger and there isn’t many small ovals over here at all," Rokahr said.

"Whereas Adelaide probably has a couple of big ones but they are a little bit smaller normally. So that leads to a bit more open play, a lot more one-on-one contests as well and it's a slightly quicker brand of footy.

"That was sort of what I was expecting and since being over here it's pretty much exactly what I've got. I'm really enjoying it and it's a great brand of footy to play."

Rokahr had also heard plenty about what to expect from Swan Districts as a football club before arriving and it's more than lived up to his expectations, but in terms of wins and losses, it's been a frustrating start to the season.

However, Rokahr is confident of what the team is capable of and is hoping they can build some winning momentum following the State game break.

"It's obviously a big club with a huge support base who are very passionate, I've learned that very quickly," Rokahr said.

"It has been a little bit frustrating so far and to be 2-4, we probably feel we could easily be 3-3 if not better. But when you get in those positions you have to be good at the end of the game and unfortunately we've let ourselves down a couple of times, but there are so many positives in the way we're playing.

"We feel the last three weeks have probably been the best three weeks we've played but we've gone 1-2 losing to East Fremantle with a kick after the siren, beating Claremont and then getting within a couple of goals of an absolutely stacked Peel Thunder.

"Unfortunately, we didn’t get the wins but we feel we're playing some really good footy, we just have to fix a couple of small things and hopefully it holds us in good stead for the second half of the season. I'm very bullish of what we can do."