Plenty of AFL players never get the chance to play in front of 90,000 people, but it only took eight career games for Jye Menzie to experience it.

Within his first 11 AFL games with the Bombers, Menzie had already played on ANZAC Day and slotted two goals in a epic Dreamtime at the ‘G win.

The matches proved to be invaluable exposure to large crowds and high pressure in the early stages of his career.

After finishing second in the Bombers’ goal scorers with 23 majors from 21 games last season, the 21-year-old is using the learnings of his first full season to set up a strong 2024 campaign.


“I remember speaking to (Assistant Coach) Dale Tapping and he told me playing in just one of those big fixtures can be worth 10-15 games of AFL experience because of the mental challenges,” Menzie said.

“Learning how to stay focused in front of those kind of crowds definitely helped me progress my footy and hopefully this year it’ll help me in the long run as well.”

Since arriving at the Bombers via the 2022 mid-season draft, the 21-year-old has looked to absorb the example set by older teammates and learn the ropes as quickly as possible.

The off-season inclusion of 136-gamer Jade Gresham has given Menzie another experienced head to confide in, with the potential of their forward partnership providing excitement leading into the season.


“’Gresh’ has been massive coming in, especially for me and the other small forwards with his experience in that area of the field,” Menzie said.

“I’ve been trying to learn off him as much as possible and I’m looking forward to that chance of playing alongside him this year.

“I’ve been able to fast-track my experience by living with a real leader in Andrew McGrath and then surrounding myself with guys like Kyle Langford and Darcy Parish, who’ve helped me a lot.”

A big off-season has paved the way for Menzie to impress in his second full pre-season, citing the squad’s willingness to work during the break as an important step in their development.

While Menzie is also proud of his personal growth over the course of 2023, he wants to use it as a base to go to another level this season.


“I’m happy with how I went last year, but I’m looking to see how far I can push myself,” Menzie said.

“Every team can obviously say the same, but we’re definitely putting the hard yards in and I think we’re going to get a lot out of that this year. Going to Arizona was another step in the right direction with the group.

“Last pre-season, the goal was just to get as much out of myself as possible, and I suppose last year was a good stepping stone (with my form), but now it’s all about just bettering myself again. I’ve gotten a lot out of the past few months.”

Alongside their experienced players, the Dons’ younger contingent is also building a strong connection on the verge of another season together.

With competitive games on the horizon, Menzie believes the camaraderie of the group is the best he’s seen it so far.

“The vibe around the group at the moment is obviously really good. Everyone’s loving coming into the club and getting to work with a lot of game plan and match simulated stuff,” Menzie said.

“It’s been about finalising everything and making little tweaks from last year to implement into drills and getting it embedded into the way we play.

“I think the bond we have now is unmatched compared to when I started. We have a lot of talent in this group and it’s an exciting time for us to take on the challenge this year.”