The mercury might have been pushing towards the mid-30s, but one Eagle was still getting “goosebumps” during West Coast’s return to pre-season on Wednesday.
During his first outing in blue and gold, draftee Luke Edwards found himself training alongside idols Nic Naitanui and Tim Kelly as the squad kick-started their 2021 preparations with gusto with an intense 90-minute session.
“The hot weather has kicked in – I’m not quite used to that just yet, but it was amazing, just to train with the likes of Tim Kelly and Nic Naitanui, just guys you idolise,” Edwards told reporters.
“It’s pretty surreal and you get a few goosebumps when you’re out there, but it was awesome.”
The young South Australian, the son of former Adelaide dual premiership player Tyson, only arrived in Perth on Sunday after a delayed introduction to the club due to border closures with his home state.
But Edwards kept himself in tip-top condition, and looked comfortable on the track at Mineral Resources Park – at one point breaking into space from a stoppage drill and nailing a neat running goal from just inside the 50m arc.
A versatile footballer who is known for his clean hands and vision, he is capable of running through midfield or using his skills from half-back or attack.
He has stayed with Jack Petruccelle since relocating to the west and will move in with a host family in City Beach tomorrow, and should be settling into the rigours of AFL pre-season training by the time his relatives visit later this month.
“All the boys have been getting around me, which has been good and making me feel welcome. I’m stoked to finally be here,” Edwards said.
“The whole family has jumped on board. They got a little guernsey and a little cap on Christmas day that they were all stoked about.
“They’re all West Coast supporters now. They’ll come over later this month and have a little tour, which will be nice for them.
“They’re happy for me.”
While some players were absent due to quarantine restrictions, including Andrew Gaff and Liam Duggan, a host of stars including Josh Kennedy, Shannon Hurn, Jack Darling, Brad Sheppard, Jamie Cripps and Jeremy McGovern got back to work on Wednesday.
It was the first official outing for the senior players this pre-season, while the likes of Liam Ryan, Oscar Allen, Josh Rotham and Brayden Ainsworth were back on deck after a brief stint prior to the Christmas break.
Although players are currently only able to train in small groups, the enthusiasm was high as the club builds towards its first pre-season match on Friday, February 19 against St Kilda.