Roos proud to honour indigenous AFL greats

Michael Ramsey

Few indigenous footballers loom larger than the great Byron Pickett and North Melbourne young gun Jed Anderson is relishing the chance to honour his boyhood hero when the Kangaroos face Brisbane in the AFL's indigenous round.

Anderson helped design the club's commemorative guernsey which features the names of 24 past and present indigenous North Melbourne players, including brilliant midfielder Pickett.

The fifth-placed Roos, who have vastly exceeded expectations this season, will don the guernsey when they host Brisbane at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

"Byron Pickett is one of the players I admired growing up, and you've got Daniel (Wells) and Lindsay (Thomas) that were here as well and really helped me at the club," Anderson said on Wednesday.

"It's extra special to have those guys on there and us represent the culture of the footy club and wear it with pride for them and for ourselves."

Pickett played 120 games for North Melbourne, including their 1999 premiership triumph, while stalwarts Wells and Thomas now play for Collingwood and Port Adelaide respectively.

The Roos had been expected to struggle this season after falling short in a well-publicised attempt to sign a big-name free agent.

But coach Brad Scott has them playing inspired football, and former Hawthorn midfielder Anderson's career-best form has been a big factor.

The 24-year-old's injury-plagued early years were a mixed bag but he has played every game this season and become an important inside-midfield contributor.

Anderson even paid his own way to attend a high-altitude training camp in Utah during the pre-season in a sign of commitment to his career.

"I just wanted to knuckle down and really put it all into this year," Anderson said.

"Funding Utah was something I wanted to do and going over there, spending some time with the new players and building relationships, really helped building into this season."

Second-year forward Jy Simpkin has also become part of the midfield rotation and is excited to play in his first indigenous round.

"It means a lot to all my mob back home, friends and family," he said.

"When I was growing up, it was probably my favourite round of the year. I used to go to Dreamtime at the 'G, watching Essendon and Richmond ... one year I actually danced before the game.

"It's a really special moment."