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West Coast Eagles

Masten express hits a ton

Chris Masten of the Eagles in action during the 2013 AFL Round 20 match between the Essendon Bombers and the West Coast Eagles at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on August 11, 2013. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)
It is interesting that Chris Masten celebrates his 100th game a week after Josh Kennedy, given that the two arrived at the club at the same time, albeit under very different circumstances
Chris Masten is a young man who likes to express himself.

He does it in every sense; through his body art, his fashion sense, his hair style and his facial growth. But most of all he does it through his football.

It took some time for him to portray the self-assured, confident young man we see inside the club in his on-field persona, but in the last couple of years, he has become an integral part of an emerging midfield unit.

Last season, he was bubbling along nicely until a few injuries took their toll, but he had graduated to a front-line player where his running capacity and improved skills were a feature. After a lengthy apprenticeship, he is now a lock-in for a spot in the senior team.

To underpin his rise to seniority, Masten will this week play his 100th game for the club. And while there will rightly be a heavy focus on the achievement of Dean Cox, in equalling the games record of Glen Jakovich (276), the significance of Masten’s milestone should not be lost.

It is interesting that Masten should celebrate his 100th appearance a week after Josh Kennedy reached triple figures against Melbourne, given they came to the club at the same time and via the same circumstances, albeit a little differently - if that isn’t double Dutch.

When the out-of-contract Chris Judd decided to leave West Coast at the end of 2007 and head back to his home town of Melbourne, the Eagles were determined to get the best possible deal in exchange for their captain.

The recruiting staff scoured the Carlton list and the player identified as essential to get the deal done was a young, emerging forward named Josh Kennedy. Originally from Northampton, the Blues had landed Kennedy with pick 4 in the 2005 draft.

After initially being disappointed at being thrown up in the deal, Kennedy came to the club, liked what he saw and decided to stay. West Coast also got draft picks three and 20 in that deal. With selection three, they secured Masten and with no.20, a young Swan Districts forward by the name of Tony Notte.

Being a high draft selection, there were similar expectations of Masten. That pressure intensified when his close mate Rhys Palmer won the 2008 NAB Rising Star Award. Another East Fremantle midfielder, Palmer was snared by Fremantle four spots later than Masten.

But “Masto”, as he is universally known, came to club with groin issues, tried to work his way through them and was patient in his quest to carve out a successful AFL career.

If he heard the words from the outer, he ignored them and was single-minded in his objective.

Always an elite runner, his injury-free body has in more recent times allowed him to play to capacity and there is also some penetration in kicking, which was denied him by those initial groin problems. In addition to that, he suffered a serious knee injury in 2010, which again interrupted his progress.

Those issues, however, are behind him and a young man who supported West Coast as a kid, will take great delight in seeing his name added to those celebrated names of Craig Turley, Fraser Gehrig and Chad Fletcher, on locker #7 as recognition of 100 West Coast games.

The kid who worked part-time in the club's Team Store before graduating to senior football should justifiably be proud of that achievement.