Finding more avenues to goal and capitalising on opportunities in front of the big sticks has been a major focus of West Coast’s AFLW pre-season training program, according to Michelle Cowan.
The club’s forward line coach told SportFM’s Sports Breakfast program that the Eagles hoped a more attacking game plan would allow them to kick winning scores in their second AFLW campaign.
West Coast kicked 11 goals across its six games in 2020; it's biggest haul of four goals occurring during the club's history-making win against the Western Bulldogs in round four.
“It’s certainly something we identified in our review after season one and it’s certainly something we are working on during every single training session,” Cowan said this morning.
“We’ve got to kick goals to win games, so if we can find some avenues to kick some easy goals and be really competitive in our forward half that’s certainly what we’ve been working really hard on.
“We’ve had some additions to our forward line and we’ve certainly got some experience there with Kellie Gibson, Mel Caulfield and Ash Atkins as well, who are highly experienced AFLW footballers and footballers in their own right.
“Hopefully we can hit the scoreboard more (in 2021).”
As important as it is for West Coast’s forwards to fire, they’ll need support from the rest of the side to prosper in front of goals.
And Cowan was confident they’d get plenty of supply thanks to the inclusion of some fresh onballers and the development of several existing Eagles.
The assistant coach said while all of the club’s recent draftees were settling into their roles, she was particularly impressed by the output of midfielder Bella Lewis, who the club recruited with its first pick in this year’s NAB AFLW Draft.
“Someone that’s really impressed me over the pre-season has been Bella Lewis,” Cowan said.
“We picked her up early in our draft and she’s been playing football for a long time. She is just a pure footballer and you can see her in the middle of the contest with Emma Swanson or Dana Hooker and she looks really strong.
“She’s got a lot of confidence too, which goes a long way at the highest level. She’s been really impressive and fantastic to work with.”
Cowan also talked up the pre-season performance of second-year midfielder Mikayla Bowen, who placed equal seventh in the 2020 Club Champion Award.
“Mikayla Bowen has come back to her second season really fit and that year older, more mature as well,” Cowan said.
“She’s looking really strong and ran the yo-yo (test) last night and did incredibly well.
“She’s just an elite runner and an elite ball user as well.”