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MONAGHAN EXPECTS FALCONS FIVE TO HAVE BIG SAY IN STATE GAME

Saturday, May 27, 2017 - 12:01 AM by Chris Pike
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WEST Perth coach Bill Monaghan has no question that any success the WAFL has against the VFL in the state game on Saturday will be significantly influenced by the five West Perth players in the side.

The WAFL will attempt to make history on Saturday by taking on the VFL in the 2017 state match at Port Melbourne's North Port Oval.

In 24 previous attempts, Victoria has beaten Western Australia in each and every one of the state matches played in Melbourne.

That last of those times came in 2007 when the VFL thrashed the WAFL by 119 points and that just happened to be at North Port Oval as well.

The WAFL do go into this year's state clash in winning form, though, and on a four-game winning streak having beaten the VFL in Northam, NEAFL in Sydney, SANFL at Lathlain Park and Tasmania at Steel Blue Oval the past four years.

The VFL, meanwhile, hasn’t won since beating Tasmania in 2012 having lost to the WAFL in 2013, and then the SANFL in 2014 and 2016.

Saturday's tilt at history sees the WA team feature five West Perth players as well and all are set to have a key role to play in the clash.

Luke Meadows had a breakout season with West Perth in 2016 as an attacking half-back. Played for WA and was on the radar of AFL clubs. Has now gone into the middle in 2017 as a big-bodied midfielder with great kicking skills. Has worked a treat with him averaging 25.4 disposals and kicking six goals.

Andrew Strijk, the 198-game veteran, remains one of the best and most damaging players in the league on his powerful right foot. Can equally effectively play as an attacking running defender or dangerous half-forward. Kicked career-best five goals just last weekend. Will be sixth time representing WA.

Aaron Black continues to be remarkably consistent with his work rate, ability to run all day and rack up winning the ball whether playing on the wing or as an inside midfielder. Despite being only 24, is a 138-game player, Sandover Medallist, fairest and best winner and set for fourth time playing for WA.

Shane Nelson is having yet another remarkable season in the midfield for West Perth averaging 32.4 disposals a game. But has been remarkably consistent over 104-game career now averaging 29.3 touches. Is a dual fairest and best winner and deserves to earn a third state jumper.

There is no more imposing or intimidating player in the league than Kody Manning and his attack on the contest and the opposition is a sight to behold. But he also is a terrific runner and has good kicking skills. Will be an important player for WAFL in what will be his second appearance for his state.

Monaghan is West Perth's longest-serving coach, has coached the Falcons to the most wins in history, is a premiership coach and also coached the WAFL to a big win over the NEAFL in Sydney in 2014.

He is glad to see all five of his West Perth players get picked in the final 23 to take on Victoria on Saturday and he has no doubt each of them will have a big say in the final outcome.

"I coach West Perth and I'm a huge fan of the guys I coach. I would have thought Strijky's form over the last two games has been outstanding so he will be a lock to play," Monaghan said.

"All four of the other guys in the squad deserve to play too, but if you go across all nine sides there is probably 40 or 45 guys who you can say that about. I've been in that position before as state coach and it's not easy. I'd love all our guys to play.

"I'd say Strijk is a definite yes and we'll wait and see on the others, but I think they will all add to WA's chances of winning if they play. But I'm not on selection and I'm not the coach. Other than hoping they, I can't offer a lot more insight."