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Youth to carry Eagles' AFLX hopes

Rhys Dickinson  February 1, 2018 12:00 PM

Training for AFLX Adam Simpson along with a couple of players talk about the club's preparation for the inaugural AFLX season

The West Coast Eagles will unleash a host of fresh faces for its maiden AFLX campaign in Adelaide on February 15.

Senior coach Adam Simpson told Eagle Eye TV that most of the club’s 2017 draftees would run onto Hindmarsh Stadium to take on the Crows and Magpies in the first of three national round robin tournaments.

He also hinted that second-year Eagle Willie Rioli might make his much anticipated debut in blue and gold at the event.

“It’s probably just a chance for our fans and members to see the new blood coming through,” Simpson revealed.

“There will be some speed with Jack Petruccelle, who is pretty quick, and Liam Ryan hopefully.

“[There’ll be] second year players as well. We hope that Willie Rioli plays.”

West Coast’s top pick in last year’s draft, Jarrod Brander, said he would love to be a member of the club’s inaugural AFLX squad.

The 18-year-old utility spoke glowingly about the shorter form of the game, which he said was tougher than it looked.

“I think the boys are enjoying it in training. It’s something different that they haven’t done before,” Brander said.

“It’s so one-on-one and there are such a small amount of players on the ground, so you can take the game on a bit more.

“It’s pretty high scoring and entertaining as well.”

Liam Duggan might have let slip that he’ll be part of the AFL travelling party during his chat with

The versatile 21-year-old could be one of the club’s more senior players to participate in the tournament.

“We’ve got a really young group going over, so it’s just going to be good fun, to get to Adelaide with a young crew who haven’t quite travelled before,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to jelling with the boys on the track and the away trip.”

Duggan felt AFLX was great preparation for the season proper.

Although games only go for 20 minutes, he said it took a physical toll on the players.

“It’s a real blowout every time we get out there,” he said.

“We’ve been doing 14 minute hits [at training]. Obviously the actual competition is two 10-minute halves, but it’s a really tough game, really fast and we’re going to take a side over that suits that game.”