Alex Witherden doesn’t drink coffee but the West Coast recruit is still spending plenty of time in Perth’s cafes this summer getting to know his new teammates.
On the training track, the former Lion has been picking the brains of an experienced Eagles backline and importantly, since leaving quarantine in early January, he has been able to regularly tick-off sessions.
But building relationships away from football has been just as important for the 22-year-old, who is quickly settling into the laid-back Perth lifestyle.
“I’m not actually a coffee drinker but I do go along with the boys to the cafes and sit there. I think just as a footy club we’re a really tight-knit group,” Witherden told SEN.
“I think it’s just been easy having a few guys – Josh Rotham, Jake Waterman and Jacko Nelson – around my age that I knew coming to the club. Having those relationships really helped me gel initially with the boys.
“I’ve just been looking for any opportunity to help build relationships and when I’m at training I’ve just been asking questions and trying to learn from guys like Shannon Hurn, Jeremy McGovern, Brad Sheppard and just trying to pick their brains, get better and improve.
“Every session I can be out there is an opportunity to learn, which has been really good.”
Witherden arrived in the west after playing 59 games for Brisbane since he was drafted via pick 23 in 2016.
The Victorian product is renowned for his damaging foot skills but is also adding elements to his game to become a more rounded footballer.
He showed some encouraging signs in his first hitout in last Friday’s intraclub and will be keen to build his chemistry with the defensive group in a scratch match against Fremantle this Saturday.
“I’ll play down in the back six again (this season), like I’ve done predominantly in the early part of my career and a lot of it will be as a distributor off half-back, but I’m looking to add more strings to my bow,” Witherden said.
“Hopefully I will be able to pinch-hit on the third tall forwards or play a little bit of a role down there in different aspects at different times of the game.
“Just working through a few different things with my craft over this summer that will hopefully open up a few different options for me."