FALCONS GEAR UP FOR FINALS ASSAULT AFTER WELCOME BYE

Thursday, August 25, 2016 - 6:26 PM by Chris Pike

WEST Perth had to drag their bodies over the line last year to make the WAFL grand final having had the last bye in Round 15, but this time the Falcons have had a bye in the second last round and coach Bill Monaghan can't complain about the preparation for another finals campaign.

West Perth ended up playing 12 straight matches culminating in the grand final last year since the last bye in Round 15 and there were certainly some bodies that needed to be managed, but this year it's a different story with the Falcons now coming off the Round 22 bye.

The break for the Falcons leads into this Saturday's clash at HBF Arena against the wooden spooners Swan Districts in what is Members' Appreciation Day for the Falcons.

No matter the result West Perth will finish the season in third position and take on South Fremantle in a qualifying final the following Saturday at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

West Perth will have some selection dilemmas, though, with Joe Morrow, Laine Rasmussen, Joel Leeson, Drew Rohde and potentially Shane Nelson all to come back into the team from the side that beat Claremont by a point prior to the bye.

Monaghan was happy to have had the bye last weekend to get the players' bodies freshened up ahead of a finals assault and he's certainly not about to complain about having that break.

"Of course it's a good time for the bye. We played Subi last week and we were battered and bruised, both physically and mentally. Our egos took a fair hit so to jump back on the horse this week and training was horrible with the rain belting down both nights, but it was good to get back out in fine weather and get a win," Monaghan said.

"We'll regroup now and top up our skill work, top up our fitness work and play Swans in the last game. It's just a game where if we win we will finish third, it's as simple as that. We may finish third regardless depending on other results during our bye.

"The bye is good to have now but you deal with what's in front of you so if we didn’t have the bye, we'd be able to back up OK. A couple of guys didn’t play against Claremont through management and at least two or three of the five were pretty angry when I said they weren’t playing. We like to think that we would have done that whether we had a bye to come or not."

Monaghan expects Rohde, Morrow, Rasmussen and Leeson to all be available to play against Swan Districts on Saturday while Nelson is still an outside chance to play despite his broken nose and fractured cheekbone.

But considering Jordan Mills, Luke Tedesco, Steve Potente, Nick Rodda and Corey Chalmers all came in and played well in their absence against Claremont, it does make for some tricky selection decisions for Monaghan and his coaching staff.

"Drew Rohde missed with concussion and he was probably 50-50 to play on Thursday night. Joe Morrow was managed, he had a bit of a knock on his shoulder last week so two weeks off for both of them make them certainties," he said.

"Joel Leeson shouldn’t be a big issue and Nelly's an outside chance to play against Swans. Laine Rasmussen was the other one and he had a nerve problem in his foot so that's been cortisoned so he will be fine after the break.

"I expect four, if not five, of those to be available so we will have some real selection issues because everyone who came in played their role. Potente was very good, especially early, Teddy played his best game in the seniors for the year, Millsy was OK and it was good to have Rodds back who will be better for the run."

The disappointment prior to the bye was that premiership veteran Matt Guadagnin was unable to string together more than a half of reserves football on return from his knee reconstruction due to a tight hamstring.

Guadagnin made his return and looked good for a half in the reserves back in Round 19 against Perth, but he felt his hamstring just after half-time and as a result didn’t play against Subiaco or Claremont either.

That makes it unlikely that he has enough time now to break back into the league side in 2016 to add to his 191 games, but Monaghan hasn’t given up on him completely and he has one more chance to show what he can do in the reserves on Saturday against Swans.

"You'd have to be a fairly brave man to predict that he will make it back now, but he will play the last week against Swans. We probably could have pushed it and played him against Claremont but now if he doesn’t play against Swans, it's curtains for the year," he said.

"That may force the issue but he won't put him out there if there's any real issue for doing more damage. We don’t think he's going to tear muscles, he's just tight and if he wants to be a part of finals action then he has to play against Swans. Then if his form is OK then we'll reconsider after that.'

While Guadagnin's return in 2016 hasn’t gone to plan so far, Monaghan will not be standing in his way of playing on again in 2017 if that's what the 32-year-old wants to do.

"My understanding is that he wants to play on. My view as a coach is that if he wants to play, he'll play but that's my view with all the players. I've never sat with a player at the West Perth Football Club and said I don’t want you to play next year," Monaghan said.

"You tell them what the upside and downside is, and that you might find there is young kids going past you and generally it's about if you can't commit 100 per cent to the training program, the kids will go past you. They just work so hard like these older guys did 10 years ago.

"A lot of them come into the office hoping I say yes or no to them playing on, but that's not my job. My job is to tell them the process and if they choose to play, you will be selected on merit if you do the work. And if you choose to play but don’t do the work, you probably won't be selected. There's not too many who haven’t made the right decision.