Senior coach Adam Simpson has been pleased to see “really good lift” from West Coast’s emerging youngsters during the important pre-Christmas training block.
Wrapping up pre-season so far at the club’s community camp, Simpson identified defender Tom Cole and developing tall Jarrod Brander among several standouts.
“We’ve had some really good lift from our younger players – our first-to-four year players,” Simpson said.
“I think we’ve got around 20 to 22 first-to-fourth year players and they’ve had an opportunity to lead and grow and run some programs and Tom Cole has been exceptional.
“Brander has been another player who has stood up, Jackson Nelson, Josh Rotham, Luke Foley, these boys have really grown as the week has gone.
“Giving our younger players the opportunity to grow is really important. We’ve got a lot of mature, strong leaders at the club and they’re really aware that they’re not going to be around forever.
“So part of what their leadership program looks like is how to get the best out of the young kids coming through, so that’s part of the pre-season as well.”
Coming off a stellar summer, Jack Petruccelle broke through to play 20 games in 2019, and the speedy forward has again earned recognition from his teammates for his efforts on the track.
“It’s been really good for Petch,” Simpson said. “He’s another one of the younger players coming through.
“He feels confident around the boys now, he’s more established and his training standards have been exceptional.
“Really pleased with his progression and the way he’s fitting in with the club.
“It’s (coming up to) his third season, he’s played probably 20-odd games and he’s ready to take the next step.”
After falling at the semi-final hurdle against Geelong and finishing the season in sixth spot, the Eagles are reloading for 2020.
West Coast has played finals in five of the six seasons Simpson has been at the helm and ensuring the squad is physically prepared for another tilt at September in 2020 has been a primary focus so far this summer.
“It’s dangerous to try and emulate the top clubs. You really want to produce your own brand, your own style and your own system, but you’ve got to look at where the game is going and try to – not get in front of it – but don’t get caught too far behind what’s happening,” Simpson said.
“We’ve been OK at that over the last five or six years and we’re not deviating too much. Pre-season and pre-Christmas is a lot about fundamentals, just execution, and strategy and tactics, they’re the last part.
“But the game is moving all the time, it will move again, so just making sure our guys are prepared physically and the fundamentals are really important.”