HE played 29 league games for Woodville-West Torrens and won two reserves premierships with the Eagles but the black and white bars of the Port Adelaide guernsey sit very comfortably with Jake Westbrook.
Growing up on Yorke Peninsula, Westbrook played for the Paskeville Magpies, wearing a guernsey very similar to the iconic strip worn by the Magpies of Alberton.
After seven seasons at Oval Avenue, coming through the junior set-up and finishing with the 2020 reserves premiership – his second with the Eagles - the 24-year-old joined Port Adelaide, seeking more league football opportunity.
It’s been a transition made easier because of the colours and some familiar faces.
“I played for my local club Paskeville Magpies back in the day,” Westbrook told portadelaidefc.com.au.
“It’s a very similar guernsey and my parents actually said they remembered me wearing the guernsey when I was a teenager so they don’t mind it, which is always good.
“Going through juniors in a small club, we ended up having to combine with Bute. I played locally there all the way into under 17s and we were never really successful.
“Lachie Jones and Boyd Woodcock played at the same club. I was a little bit older than them so I never played with them.”
After his strong foundation on the Yorke Peninsula, Westbrook came to Adelaide to be part of the Eagles’ under 16 program.
He took a year off when he was 17 and returned home to play A-grade against men but then returned to the Eagles where he debuted in 2016 and made 29 league appearances.
As well as Jones and Woodcock, Westbrook found comfort in some other Yorke Peninsula boys who have made the move to Port Adelaide in 2021.
“Matt Appleton and Dylan Aldridge are from Yorke Peninsula so I’ve grown up playing against them and I played at the Eagles with them as well,” he said.
“I’ve also had (Port Adelaide SANFL and Next Generation Academy manager) Shane Grimm as a coach in the under 18s and he got in touch with me in the off-season to see if I was keen to come across, and here I am now.”
While he also trains with Henley Sharks and will play there is not selected at SANFL level, Westbrook has been enjoying his new surrounds at Alberton.
“The set-up is awesome. Having the access to state-of-the-art facilities and the coaching staff is just unbelievable,” he explained.
“The environment and the energy around the place is just great and it’s really refreshing for me after being at the same club for five years.
“I think that’s reflective of how I’m training and my attitude as well.
“I’m really enjoying the whole set up in terms of the learning structures and the access we have with the coaches.”
Westbrook was one of six SANFL contracted players who featured for Port Adelaide in its season-opening loss to Norwood.
It was a tough night at the office for everyone in the backline with the Redlegs dominating at the clearances and on the scoreboard.
Despite that, the 181-centimetre backman is excited about how he fits into the Magpies’ system.
“I’m finding the way Port Adelaide likes to play its footy is advantageous to how I like to play,” Westbrook said.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying the role I’ve had so hopefully I’ll get that opportunity throughout the year to keep putting my best foot forward.”
Port Adelaide next tackles Central District on Saturday from 2:10pm in its first SANFL home game at Alberton Oval since 2019.