Monday, February 4, 2013 - 11:38 AM


West Perth Coach Bill Monaghan believes the key to West Perth’s 2013 season – its 20th at Arena Joondalup – will be whether the club can rediscover the defensive pressure and consistency it showed in 2011.

The Falcons finished that season in second position before being bundled out of the finals race in straight sets and then embarked on a disappointing 2012 campaign which came to an end when they finished two games and percentage outside the top four.

Monaghan said the coaching staff had tried to tweak the game plan over summer in an effort to return the club to the finals this season.

“Some of the areas that were poor were to do with personnel and some were to do with structure,” he said.

“We probably went away in 2012 from our defensive pressure. We defended really poorly at times and couldn’t stop sides scoring. Some of our good football was really good, but our bad football was terrible. We didn’t have a lot of consistency in what we did.

“We’ve lost some personnel with the retirement of LeCras, Rice and Burns, and Fleay taking up a job in Kalgoorlie, and we are going to find it difficult to replace those guys in terms of their experience and ability.

“But, we have also tried to add some players who can kick the ball well and who have some flair and some run-and-carry around the middle. “

Monaghan said three of the key additions to the squad were midfielders Rohan Kerr (ex-Carlton), Trent Manzone (Queensland) and James Embley (Swan Districts).

It was hoped the addition of Embley would allow Ray Bartholomew to be used as a more attacking player.

Other newcomers included former Swans midfielder Steven Potente and key position player Shaun Marusic, from Frankston.

“Obviously, we have got a really good bunch of kids coming through, too, like (Matthew) Johnson and (Brayden) Antonio and we’re looking forward to the further development of those guys,” Monaghan said.

“And then there are some of the senior players who struggled through the pre-season last year are up and going. This time last year (Steven) Browne, (Luke) Tedesco, (Ray) Bartholomew and (Jason) Salecic were struggling to train at all and they are all miles ahead of that.

“I think Aaron Black and Shane Nelson will be better this year and so we think there is a bit of excitement around the group.”

But Monaghan also conceded West Perth had lacked a marking forward. It had been hoped that Victorian Darcy Barden would fill the role, but he had returned home over summer.

“It’s a really hard market to find players in – experienced, strong, game-changing forwards,” he said.

“We have identified some within our own ranks in terms of (Shayne) Zanetti and (Frank) Stockley, Matt Fowler and Drew Rhodes, who’s a mid-sized forward, so it’s an area we are always trying to fill.

“But, it’s not easy. Every club in the country at every level is trying to find a strong-marking full-forward or a 50-60 goal centre-half forward.

“Some of our guys are still young and we need to be patient with them unless we can find someone who just falls out of the sky.

“We missed out on Josh Smith (who went to East Perth), but we’ve seen over the last couple of years that when Kepler (Bradley) and (Quinten) Lynch have played with us it does straighten us up. So we need to make sure the structures are right for those young kids when they come in.”

Monaghan said he was happy with the club’s defensive key-position stocks and he hoped Laine Rasmussen or Kris Shannon would fill the hole left by former Fairest and Best Burns.

Salecic had enjoyed an injury-free pre-season for the first time since 2010 and would likely continue to spend time in the forward line in 2013.

But the big surprise of the pre-season had been the 2km time trial victory by AIS Academy member Nick Robertson.

“We’re not sold on whether he will play senior footy this year,” Monaghan said.

“He played State 18's last year and is Colts-eligible again this year, but he really set the track alight the other week with a time of six minutes and ten seconds, I think it was. “So, we would like to think he could potentially play Round 1, but there is a bit of water to go under the bridge yet.”

Monaghan said other stars of the pre-season included Jay Van Berlo, Jordan Jones, Andrew Strijk, Laine Rasmussen, Dan Hunt and Luke Tedesco.

“So, we are probably three or four weeks further advanced collectively than we were this time last year,” Monaghan said.

“And last year was the first time in my time here that we struggled early. We didn’t get up and running until four or five weeks into the season and so hopefully come Round 1 our fitness and ball movement and game style will be a lot further advanced.”

Monaghan said he expected Claremont to be a strong side again in 2013, but there was little between the nine WAFL clubs.

West Perth’s major pre-season camp will be held at Bruce Rock on the weekend of February 9 and its first pre-season game is scheduled to be played against South Fremantle at Fremantle Oval on March 2.