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FIGHT OR FLIGHT FOR FALCONS IN 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013 - 11:27 AM
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West Perth players donned full riot gear recently in preparation for an assault on the 2013 WAFL season.

The unique training program, led by the Emergency Support Group at Hakea Prison last month, added another twist to a lively, but sometimes unsettled pre-season for the Joondalup-based club.

At the end of last year, recruitment staff faced a challenge with the loss of 564 games of experience following the retirement of Brent LeCras, Dion Fleay, Dustin Burns and Joel Rice.

Added to this was the disappointment of losing AFL premiership ruckman Mark Seaby to Claremont.

Breckler Medallist Mark Hutchings was then snared by West Coast in the AFL draft, meaning the Falcons would lose the star midfielder to arch rivals East Perth in 2014.

But the Falcons have moved on, signing five seasoned players, including ex-Carlton half forward Rohan Kerr, as well as retaining de-listed AFL players Andrew Strijk and Jay van Berlo.

Former Swan Districts players James Embley, brother of West Coast veteran Andrew Embley, and Steven Potente also join the side.

Key position player Shaun Marusic, from the VFL’s Frankston, and utility Trent Manzone, from NEAFL side Redland, complete the recruited line-up.

Coach Bill Monaghan had confidence in the new-look side, but admitted it was “still at the young end”.

“Hopefully (we’re) a little bit more mature than we were last year at the bottom end and that’ll mean we won’t be as inconsistent with our performances,” he said.

“Whilst we’ve lost a couple of really handy senior players… a lot of players are seeing it as an opportunity to stamp themselves as regular league players.”

The Falcons had been working on a new game style centred on defensive pressure, which Monaghan said was lacking in 2012.

It had created a good vibe around the club, with the players enjoying the fresh approach.

“That was one of the things that was very disappointing last year; at times we moved the ball really well and looked good but failed to stop the opposition from scoring,” he said.

West Perth took an interesting approach to pre-season training on December 8, becoming the first-ever sports club to train with the Emergency Support Group (ESG) at Hakea Prison.

The training featured 14 senior players, including captain Jason Salecic, in a test of their abilities as a team under stressful conditions.

ESG Assistant Superintendent of Operations Trevor Screaigh said the day was “extremely positive”.

“Although the ESG and West Perth Football Club are totally different entities, the principles of teamwork and leadership are universal, whether you are an emergency response unit or an elite football team," he said.

The Falcons’ season opens on March 16th with a Saturday derby clash against East Perth.

BY MARK DONALDSON

JOONDALUP TIMES - 30TH JANUARY 2013

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