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Duggan sets the bar high in 2017

May 15, 2017 9:30 AM

Liam Duggan collected eight contested possessions against the Bulldogs on Friday night

Liam Duggan collected eight contested possessions against the Bulldogs on Friday night

Third-year Eagle Liam Duggan is hoping to steal Sam Mitchell and Andrew Gaff’s best attributes in a bid to become a more damaging midfielder.

The 20-year-old was afforded some extra time to study the 2012 Brownlow medallist and 2015 John Worsfold medallist’s training methods at the beginning of the year when he suffered a minor hamstring injury that cast him to the sidelines for at least a fortnight. The injury also forced him to miss the first three games of the home-and-away season.

But Duggan hardly let the setback get him down and he proved he was ready to reclaim his spot in West Coast’s starting 22 following three consecutive 20-plus disposal efforts in the WAFL.

He hoped pinching a few tricks of the trade from the club’s leaders – particularly Mitchell and Gaff – and maintaining a rigorous gym regimen would help him mix it with the AFL’s best midfielders for the remainder of the season.

“I was a scrawny 76kg when I arrived and I’m closer to 85kg now. That’s helped me to get inside,” Duggan told The West Australian.

“My role is a bit more outside at the moment but I certainly don’t feel as intimidated and can match it a bit better.

“I’ve got some really good blokes to learn from in Sam Mitchell and Andrew Gaff.

“Gaff’s got an unbelievable tank and does a great job with the ball in hand. I try to be like that. Mitchell has arrived at the club and helped me out. Working with those blokes has been great for me.”

Duggan will need keep producing good football to retain his spot in light of the Eagles' improving injury list.

The club is set to welcome back several key players this week, including forward-ruckman Drew Petrie, dashing half-back Jackson Nelson and livewire goal sneak Jamie Cripps.

“There’s boys coming back now and we’re starting to get reasonably healthy," Duggan said.

“Competition is going to get tougher. It’s a good spot to be in. The pressure coming from underneath is something you have to feel because it drives you to play better.”