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KEY POSITION STOCKS LOOK STRONG FOR FALCONS

Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 3:45 PM by Chris Pike
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KEY position players are increasingly difficult to find for any WAFL club and that's why West Perth coach Bill Monaghan is looking forward to seeing how the addition of Scott Simpson to Nick Rodda, Tyler Keitel, Michael Lourey and Mark Hamilton pans out in 2017.

A lot more goes into being a successful team obviously than just the players you have filling key position roles, but it does have a significant impact and West Perth appear well stocked in that area coming into 2017.

The Falcons have signed former AFL-listed and VFL big man Simpson for the 2017 season and he brings with him plenty of size and experience to help the emerging Keitel, Rodda and Hamilton.

At this stage, it appears the plan for West Perth will be to settle the experienced Simpson down back and the equally experienced Lourey up forward to provide the support for those a little younger.

With Rodda likely to join Simpson in the back-line and Keitel to partner Lourey up forward, that looks like a good set up for West Perth to build a team around in 2017. 

Then there is Hamilton capable of playing at either end of the ground and with Chris Keunen and Seva Mozhaev providing the majority of the work as ruckmen in the middle, the size that West Perth is coming into the new season with looks encouraging.

"We are still fairly buoyant about our list and with Rodda and Keitel as young talls are still going to improve, and adding Scott Simpson this year is a little different to how we generally recruit. All of a sudden we have another big bodied, experienced player along with Mike Lourey," Monaghan said.

"That gives us a little bit more flexibility with some of our key positions and gives us some flexibility in how we use our ruckmen, and how we use Joe Morrow. Just adding that one extra genuine tall who can play forward, back or in the ruck has really meant that we have predominately been using Keitel forward.

"That's probably going to continue and all of a sudden with Keitel and Lourey up forward, and Simpson and Rodda down back we're hoping that will work out well for us and we can mix that around at times. We will have the chance to stretch opposition defences as well at times."

West Perth's season gets underway this Sunday against East Perth at HBF Arena following the Round 1 bye. It was games against the Royals, among others, at times last year that showed to Monaghan that some added size and experience down back wouldn’t go astray.

That's where the recruitment of Simpson became a priority and already Monaghan likes the look of his defensive unit with him stationed back there.

"He also gives us the ability to use him on some of the big forwards from the opposition who a young Keitel, Rodda, King and Morrow haven’t been able to handle in recent years," he said.

"We identified that at times last year we struggled against guys like Shepheard, Shaw, Cameron or the big guys from the AFL aligned sides.

"We just felt at times that one genuine, experienced key would help us and that's what we were looking for and we were able to find Scott. It's still theory at this stage but we're hoping it works out for us."

Simpson might not have quite had the impact on the pre-season matches that Monaghan was hoping to see, but he knows that with an extra two weeks to get ready for the season-opener against East Perth on Sunday that he expects him ready to show what he's capable of.

"Scott didn’t do a lot of training before Christmas and he's had a couple of little setbacks along the way, but he played the last two practice matches. Probably by his own admission his first one wasn't great and he was clearly better in the second, but he has been willing to help the young guys out," he said.

"He's played AFL footy, a large number of VFL games and state football so players like that are hard to find and they are hard to convince to come and play. We're really lucky that his friendship with Mike Lourey meant that he chose us.

"He has had a couple of years out of system and as good as it is to have Scott, we're understanding that big grounds, a new environment, the temperature are all things he needs to get used to. Whilst we think he will have a significant impact, we're not expecting him to be the best player in the competition in Round 1. We're just hoping that he can play his role and help in our structure and free a couple of blokes up."

The most exciting thing about all the key position players West Perth will go into the season with is the flexibility it also provides Monaghan.

At any point he can move any of the bunch to either end of the ground or for a stint in the ruck, and it also frees up someone like Joe Morrow to not have to be play as undersized target in attack or key defender.

"Nick will admit he didn’t have the greatest of years last year where he battled various injuries. Whilst he still played a significant number of games, never really got going into his season. Tyler on the back of his first pre-season really improved and we think there's significant more upside with him again," Monaghan said.

"You throw in Mark Hamilton who whilst he didn’t set the world on fire, he showed in a variety of positions from forward, back to the ruck that he is a valuable player for us. That takes some of the pressure off Mike a little bit up forward. Most sides have banked on us going to Mike more times than not, so if we can throw some different looks then that will help us.

"Joe Morrow is another one we can use at either end. He hasn’t had a good run with injury over a number of years, but the past two years he has been able to show how valuable he can be. That all sounds good on paper and in theory, but we need to make sure that come game day our intensity, intent and effort is good and hopefully we'll be able to compete with all the sides in the competition."