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Schofield up for the fight

Travis King, AFL.com.au  March 6, 2018 12:15 PM

Schofield press conference 06.03.18 Veteran defender Will Schofield talks to the Perth media ahead of their training session at Lathlain Park

West Coast backman Will Schofield is welcoming the added pressure to cement a spot and has trimmed down in a bid to become more versatile this season.

Schofield was up-and-down from the WAFL last year, managing only 10 senior games as the likes of Elliot Yeo and Liam Duggan moved into defence. 

This season Francis Watson, Jackson Nelson, Tom Cole and Lewis Jetta could rotate through the backline more often.

Schofield isn't guaranteed a spot in the season-opener and the 164-gamer told reporters on Tuesday he's using the extra competition as motivation.

"It's actually better for myself, better for the team that we've got that really good depth," Schofield said.

"A couple of years ago we had a really steady backline, especially in '15 when we didn't have a lot of guys who can come in.

"We've got three, four, five blokes vying for those last couple of spots, which is terrific for us as a team, but it motivates me as well, personally."

Schofield has always been able to play tall or small, but the 196cm big man has shed weight over summer to improve his flexibility. 

"Going back a couple of years I had to put on a few kilos to play on those bigger guys, whereas this season I probably lost a few to be able to match up on smaller guys while being able to play on the big fellas as well," Schofield said. 

"Match-ups are probably a thing of the past and (against) Sydney in round one you need to be able to match up on Buddy Franklin as well as the (Tom) Papleys and those sort of guys.

"You've just got to be able to do it all."

The Eagles' backline should be bolstered by the return of Jeremy McGovern from concussion against Fremantle in Sunday's JLT Community Series clash at Joondalup.

Meanwhile, Schofield played down concerns over a wrist injury to Tom Barrass after the emerging key defender had a cast on his wrist after a practice match loss to the Dockers.

"I could tell you that he's a very keen ten-pin bowler and he's just looking after his bowling hand, but he's had that for six or seven weeks," Schofield said. 

"When he's not training he has that on just to look after his wrist to get it stabilised during the week, but game day it's fine." 

West Coast could lose ruckman Nathan Vardy for the opening rounds of the season after he hurt a groin against the Dockers, and it is unknown whether Nic Naitanui will return from his knee reconstruction this Sunday.

But there were positive signs at training on Tuesday when he jumped during centre bounce work, the last stage he needs to tick off before being cleared to play. 

"Nic's just like any other player coming through rehab, you've got to get yourself mentally right, but physically it's a battle as well – he's a big guy," Schofield said.

"To have a lower limb injury being such a big fella it takes time. 

"He's a very mentally strong young man, Nic, and there won't be any questions about his mental side of his game, once he's physically right he'll be good to go."