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FALCONS LOOK FOR RECRUITS TO LIFT YOUNG SQUAD

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 2:11 PM
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WEST Perth coach Bill Monaghan is confident the Falcons have exciting young talent coming through that will be helped along by some recruits coming back from AFL, the VFL, Queensland and rival WAFL clubs.

While the Falcons have lost plenty of experience coming into the 2013 campaign with the retirements of Brent LeCras, Dion Fleay, Joel Rice and Dustin Burns, Monaghan is confident that within the squad there young players that can step up and develop enough to fill that void.

However, there are also new arrivals at West Perth for the season that are exciting as well.

Rohan Kerr arrives from Carlton, Trent Manzone from Queensland, Shaun Marusic from Frankston in the VFL, Steve Potente and James Embley both from Swan Districts and then Andrew Strijk and Jay Van Berlo return full-time after losing their spots on AFL lists with West Coast and Fremantle.

Kerr wasn’t able to crack it for an AFL game in his three years at Carlton, but in the VFL he played well largely as a running half-back who could also play in the middle.

That is the sort of role Monaghan sees him playing with the Falcons as well and already he has added some colour and vibrancy at the club.

"Rohan is a real character and it's good to have someone with a little bit of a left-field attitude at times. He has fitted in well, he's got plenty to say and he looks suited to the big grounds here," Monaghan said.

"He has good skills and gets over the ground well, and we expect him to have an impact but we also need to be aware that he has played predominantly VFL footy where the game is significantly different to here.

"We don’t expect him to be our best player early in the year, but over time we expect he will keep improving and add something to our squad. I think Rohan would like to think he will spend a lot of time in the midfield, but we think he can float between midfield, forward and back.

"I'm not settled into where his best position is, we will see that as the games progress but his smartness around the footy field and ability to kick the ball is high quality."

Manzone comes to West Perth from Apsley in Queensland who have been playing in the NEAFL. Two years ago he played well for Queensland in the nail-biting state game loss to WA at Bendigo Bank Stadium and Monaghan is confident he can come in and have an impact.

"It's good to have a Manzone to go along with our Sanzone. Trent is an exceptional kick of the football and he seems to read the play well and he's in good condition," he said.

"He runs well and has all the attributes to play good senior WAFL footy, but the unknown is that he has come from what is classified as a second tier competition even though it has picked up in that area.

"He might take a little bit of time to adjust to the tempo, but we think that his overall ability will hold him in good stead and we expect that because he is so keen, he will continue to improve and be a decent player."

Two players familiar with WAFL football, though, after Swan Districts pair Embley and Potente.

Potente always looked to be a supremely talented player dating back to his days in the colts at Swans and he broke through in 2009 to play 19 league games and cement his spot in the team that made a preliminary final.

However, persistent groin injuries have limited him to just five league games since then and he played only 11 matches in the reserves in 2012. But with his left-foot skills, goal sense and elusive talents, Monaghan is glad to have him on board at West Perth.

Embley is the younger brother of West Coast veteran Andrew, but has played 17 league games since making his debut in 2008. He has shown enough as a hard-running midfielder to suggest he has plenty to offer at just 23 as well.

"What excited us about both of them for us was the fact that they are that little bit older. What we have had with a lot of our recruits over the last couple of years is that they have been 19 and 20 year-old's, and been unproven," he said.

"But we know that both James and Steven can play senior footy, and have played some decent senior footy but for various reasons didn’t play a lot last year. Both of them are in pretty good nick and we think that they will add something to our squad.

"We probably don’t have an out and out run-with type player and that's not to pigeon-hole James into that role, but it could allow us to use Ray Bartholomew more in an attacking role. James will bring a bit of grunt, a bit of discipline and strength to our stoppages and we would think that we will at some run-with roles for him.

"Over the last couple of weeks, Steve's training has really lifted and he's got good speed and lateral movement. He is a left-footer and yes there's not much of him, but it's really only because of injury that he hasn’t played a lot of league footy. Both of them are pushing hard for a game in Round 1."

Both Strijk and Van Berlo have still played plenty of football with West Perth while on West Coast and Fremantle's AFL lists respectively, but now that they are back with the Falcons full-time Monaghan is already seeing the enormous benefits and quality of them.

"They have both been fantastic with their leadership and examples they are setting on the field," Monaghan said.

"We can flower things up as much as we want, but whilst they are on AFL lists and always try their hardest when coming back to West Perth, we know that they are trying to impress their AFL clubs in the roles and positions that they want to be played at by their clubs.

"I would never question their commitment to West Perth, but now being here all the time and working well with the players during the week and being able to set the example and show leadership, both are quality West Perth people and we are rapt to have them back in the squad full-time."

BY CHRIS PIKE