EMERGING STAR BLACK FOCUSES ON IMPROVEMENT

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 8:00 PM

AARON Black is one of the young faces of West Perth looking to usher in a new era of success by being a key member of the midfield for years to come, but improvement personally and for the team continues to be his goal.

The 20-year-old has now played 42 league matches for West Perth having been a regular member of the team the last two years and now becoming a key cog of the midfield whether he's playing on the ball or on the wing.

He has had another strong start to the season including his best performance in last Friday's three-point win over South Fremantle at Fremantle Oval where he finished with 30 possessions, seven marks and four entries inside-50.

While happy with the way his game is developing, Black knows there are areas for him to improve in and kicking more goals is one of those. He has booted just 10 goals in his 42 games to date.

"I'm reasonably happy with my start but there are always things you can work on, and I think on the weekend it was probably my best game of the three," Black said.

"One thing that is really important for me is to make sure that I improve the attacking side of my game, and kick a few more goals but really I'm just happy for us to get the three wins on the board. That's the most important thing and if I can contribute, it's just a bonus."

Black was given his first taste of league football in 2010 with five games and by 2011, he had become a regular member of the team and by last year, a strong performer week in and week out in the midfield.

That has continued for Black this year and it's been a similar story for his good friend Shane Nelson.

"Definitely this year and towards the middle part of last year I really started to feel like it was my time and I started to show the coaches that they were right to show the faith in me to play me at such a young age. It's good to repay them for playing me so early and if I can continue the good form I have been showing," he said.

"Me and him always have little running competitions together because we are good mates and we push each other a little bit as well. We always get the most out of each other when we are out there playing. We do have a bit of fun and it's good to be able to play together."

While the young players like Black, Nelson, Marc Crisp, Matthew Johnson, Laine Rasmussen, Nick Rodda and Kody Manning continue to show tremendous signs of development, there's no doubt their progress is helped by the presence of Jason Salecic, Matt Guadagnin, Michael Pettigrew, Dan Hunt, Ray Bartholomew and Anthony Tsalikis, among others.

"We've learned a lot from those senior guys as well and it's great to have them around to help us, and they still give us a run for our money when they are in the middle with us as well," he said.

"It's definitely been a good help having them there and we really appreciate that Bill has given us an opportunity to get a run through the middle where we are hopefully repaying him."

Perhaps the most pleasing factors of West Perth's unbeaten start to the season is the fact that the coaching staff and playing group feel as though there is still plenty of improvement, but there's also plenty of pressure on for spots.

Anton Saylor, Michael Mascoulis, Alex Elisseou, Joe Morrow, Frank Stockley, Kris Shannon, Shaun Marusic, Brayden Antonio and Trent Manzone are in the reserves and more than capable league footballers, so the pressure is on for the entire 22 to keep performing.

"We've played really well in the first three games even though obviously there are a few things to work on, especially skill-wise," he said.

"Our kicking has probably let us down the most the first three weeks, so that's something that has been a bit disappointing but we know when that comes that we will be even better. Our defence has been really good the first three weeks and that's something we pride ourselves on under Bill.

"We are putting pressure on each other which we didn’t really do as much last year. We are putting pressure on each other to better ourselves and even though we're not playing at our best, to win games and win close games is good because we might not have been able to do that last year."

West Perth held on against a winless team South Fremantle last Friday night at Fremantle Oval and now returns to Arena Joondalup this Saturday for the first time since Round 1 to take on a Peel Thunder side that is yet to win a game in 2013.

Black knows that doesn’t mean it's going to be an easy task for the Falcons to come away with the four points though.

"It's a similar story to South Freo last week. They were 0-2 and came out and gave us a run for our money so we just have to take Peel like they are a top four side, and play like we have been and hopefully improve in the areas that we need to," Black said.

"We really try to make it a fortress and to win all our games at home, that's our goal. It's good to play in front of the home fans and get that support.

"Obviously you don’t get as much support at the other grounds and it's good to come back here. We like playing on the bigger ground too. It allows us to get our runners into space so they can take the game on a bit more."

BY CHRIS PIKE