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West Coast Eagles

Mature Eagles to lead the way in 2019

Van Berlo press conference 14.03.19 Midfield coach Nathan Van Berlo speaks to the media ahead of open training at Subiaco Oval

Nathan van Berlo reckons the maturity of West Coast’s senior leaders could be an ace up the club’s sleeve in season 2019 as the competition adapts to the introduction of several new rules.

With less influence from runners, who are now only permitted to enter the field of play during stoppages after goals, players will have more say in how their team operates on game day.

The new midfield coach felt the Eagles were in a good position to deal with the change because of its list profile and strong cohort of experienced and emerging leaders.

“Coaches are going to have less input to a certain regard as to how many messages (go out) and how we deliver our messages on game day, as well as the complexity of rotations, which is a different issue for a sports science and staff on the bench,” van Berlo said today.

“Our senior group of players have been terrific in the past and I dare say this will be another step forward for them for being another extension of the coaching group.”

Van Berlo said he would undoubtedly lean on his more experienced onballers to deal with the 6-6-6 rule, which experts far and wide believe will most impact midfield groups.

He revealed adjusting to the rule change had been more complex than he suspected.

“Teams are going to have to adjust on the fly in games,” van Berlo said.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of space at centre bounce, which can work both ways.

“The biggest thing is you’re not going be able to assist a centre bounce loss, especially if momentum is going against you.

“We are just going to have to make sure going forward that we give ourselves the best of both looks. If we lose it we can still defend behind it, but if we win it we’re in good shape to keep the ball in our forward half or get a score.

“The first week was a bit of ‘Wow, this is a bit of a change’. I dare say in a few weeks’ time teams will figure tout a few different strategies to try and minimise the different look and then get about their work from there.”

When pressed on who might be available to face the Lions at The Gabba in nine days’ time, van Berlo was confident defender Brad Sheppard would be right for the round one clash.

But he didn’t go as far as saying that dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy was a certainty to take on Brisbane.

“He trained really well earlier in the week and is certainly pushing his case for being right for next week,” he said regarding Kennedy.

“We will give him every opportunity understanding how important he is for us.

“In saying that, if he’s not right we’re certainly very confident that we can get the job done.

“Our forward line, as you would have seen in the last couple of weeks, has a bit of a different look to it without LeCras, Kennedy and Cripps as well. The speed and the youth that we’ve got up there has also been an exciting look.

“We’ll be confident our forward line will be in good shape.”