PLENTY OF FALCONS TO ATTRACT AFL ATTENTION

Friday, August 2, 2013 - 4:02 AM

NOT only is the West Perth team of 2013 performing well as a collective sitting in second position on the ladder but a host of players could also be putting themselves in the frame to end up on AFL lists.

West Perth now sits two games clear in second position on the WAFL ladder following last Saturday's 30-point derby win over East Perth at Arena Joondalup and a host of players who have been key players in the Falcons' rise up the ladder could see themselves being looked at closely by AFL clubs.
There are colts players like Nick Robertson and Blake Acres who are near-certain draftees, but those with senior experience who continue to impress and could attract attention include Rohan Kerr, Shane Nelson, Aaron Black, Kody Manning, Nick Rodda, Matt Johnson and possibly even Andrew Strijk.
West Perth coach Bill Monaghan hopes for their individual sakes that all those players get the chance in the AFL, but if not he is just as confident that the Falcons will provide the ideal place for them to continue to improve and be part of a successful football culture.
"The beauty of all of them is that if they happen to not get drafted we think this is a really good environment for them to learn and improve in, and that group is going to be an exceptionally hard group to hold out for opposition sides for three or four years if they are at West Perth," Monaghan said.
"In our senior group we have five or six in the 19 through to 21 or 22 age bracket who have had really good years and it wouldn’t be a surprise to any of us for them to make their way onto an AFL list.
"We have two boys in our colts Robertson and Acres who are outstanding talents. They have both had shoulder injuries, but that shouldn’t stop them from being drafted. They have both been added to the national combine and we are confident that both of them will end up on an AFL-list."
Nick Rodda and Matt Johnson have come through the ranks at West Perth together to see the good friends play strong league football each during 2013 and without question they both will be looked at closely by a host of AFL clubs.
Johnson started the season in brilliant fashion kicking six goals in Round 1 against East Perth and he has kicked 19 majors for the season up until injuring a hamstring in Round 13. However, with his lethal left-boot he could quite comfortably make an impact at AFL level.
Then there is key position big man Rodda. He has played as a key forward most of this season as the main target and played that role well, but he is perhaps best suited to defence and will now move to full-back to replace the injured Michael Pettigrew.
"Nick Rodda and Matt Johnson both have the ability to be on an AFL list and it's just a matter of whether clubs have room on their development lists for guys like that. Nick is a big boy at 196cm, he is a 2.90 20-metre runner and has strong attack on the footy, and can play forward or back," he said.
"They are some good assets to have as a young player at 19 years of age and he's now played 20 league games and will play with us for the rest of the season. Johnson is an exceptional talent. He has all the attributes in terms of speed, marking and kicking.
"He had a really up and down year as a colt last year and played some State 18s but consistency and competitiveness were some issues people had with him.
"I'm not sure that anyone has any problems with his ability and we've worked hard with Matt to improve his competiveness and consistency, and he's played some outstanding senior football as an 18-year-old young man who could still be playing colts footy.
"I'm really excited by both Nick and Matt's future and I think there will be a lot of AFL clubs looking closely at them. Whether they get drafted or not is not our choice, but they are both very much in the draftable bracket."
Rohan Kerr was one of West Perth's top recruits for the 2013 coming off being listed with Carlton for three years and he has made a tremendous impact.
He narrowly missed selection for Western Australia in the State game against Victoria, but is having an outstanding season both on the wing and half-forward. He is averaging almost 21 possessions a game including a high of 31 in Round 18 while also kicking 15 goals including six against Peel in Round 5.
The 21-year-old has fitted in immediately at West Perth with his kicking skills a particular highlight of his game.
"Rohan Kerr was on Carlton's list for three years and he's come over here, and has really enjoyed the WA lifestyle," Monaghan said.
"He has fitted in well, he is a good character to have around the club and has played some really good footy. At 21, people know he's been in the system and I think he is capable of playing at that level. His best football is really good."
Monaghan also expects Nelson, Black and Manning to all come under close attention from AFL recruiters with Nelson becoming an elite in-and-under midfielder, Black a tremendous wingman and Manning one of the best tacklers and pressure players in the competition.
"Then we've got Shane Nelson, Aaron Black and to a degree Kody Manning who have enough strengths and strings to their bow where if a side is looking for that type of player that they are outside chances of being drafted," he said.
"Kody's attack on the footy and his defensive mindset in our forward-line this year has been outstanding.
"Shane just has an uncanny ability to rack up possessions. There may be some issues about how well he kicks the football, but in terms of him finding the football, winning clearances and tackling, there has to be a premium placed on people who can find it 30 or 35 times as a 19-year-old playing league football.
"Blacky is a case where I think as a 55-game player at 20 years of age he is going to be one of those genuine mature-age draft picks. He could be a 100-game player here by the time he's only 22 or 23 and physically and mentally he is mature enough to be playing AFL footy. He is ticking all the boxes."
Andrew Strijk has also had an outstanding season for West Perth running off half-back and Monaghan wouldn’t be surprised if he attracts some attention as well.
"Andrew Strijk is another one who would be a bit of a left-field selection at 26 years of age. We've moved him to half-back, which we've always thought was his best position, and that wasn’t necessarily the views of West Coast who played him as a forward," Monaghan said.
"If there's a side out there who wants a strong marking, rebounding, beautiful kick off half-back then Andrew Strijk has plenty of years of AFL footy left in him. It would need to be a real area that a club needs to fill for him, but I wouldn’t completely rule out him being redrafted."
BY CHRIS PIKENOT only is the West Perth team of 2013 performing well as a collective sitting in second position on the ladder but a host of players could also be putting themselves in the frame to end up on AFL lists.

West Perth now sits two games clear in second position on the WAFL ladder following last Saturday's 30-point derby win over East Perth at Arena Joondalup and a host of players who have been key players in the Falcons' rise up the ladder could see themselves being looked at closely by AFL clubs.

There are colts players like Nick Robertson and Blake Acres who are near-certain draftees, but those with senior experience who continue to impress and could attract attention include Rohan Kerr, Shane Nelson, Aaron Black, Kody Manning, Nick Rodda, Matt Johnson and possibly even Andrew Strijk.

West Perth coach Bill Monaghan hopes for their individual sakes that all those players get the chance in the AFL, but if not he is just as confident that the Falcons will provide the ideal place for them to continue to improve and be part of a successful football culture.

"The beauty of all of them is that if they happen to not get drafted we think this is a really good environment for them to learn and improve in, and that group is going to be an exceptionally hard group to hold out for opposition sides for three or four years if they are at West Perth," Monaghan said.

"In our senior group we have five or six in the 19 through to 21 or 22 age bracket who have had really good years and it wouldn’t be a surprise to any of us for them to make their way onto an AFL list.

"We have two boys in our colts Robertson and Acres who are outstanding talents. They have both had shoulder injuries, but that shouldn’t stop them from being drafted. They have both been added to the national combine and we are confident that both of them will end up on an AFL-list."

Nick Rodda and Matt Johnson have come through the ranks at West Perth together to see the good friends play strong league football each during 2013 and without question they both will be looked at closely by a host of AFL clubs.

Johnson started the season in brilliant fashion kicking six goals in Round 1 against East Perth and he has kicked 19 majors for the season up until injuring a hamstring in Round 13. However, with his lethal left-boot he could quite comfortably make an impact at AFL level.

Then there is key position big man Rodda. He has played as a key forward most of this season as the main target and played that role well, but he is perhaps best suited to defence and will now move to full-back to replace the injured Michael Pettigrew.

"Nick Rodda and Matt Johnson both have the ability to be on an AFL list and it's just a matter of whether clubs have room on their development lists for guys like that. Nick is a big boy at 196cm, he is a 2.90 20-metre runner and has strong attack on the footy, and can play forward or back," he said.

"They are some good assets to have as a young player at 19 years of age and he's now played 20 league games and will play with us for the rest of the season. Johnson is an exceptional talent. He has all the attributes in terms of speed, marking and kicking.

"He had a really up and down year as a colt last year and played some State 18s but consistency and competitiveness were some issues people had with him.

"I'm not sure that anyone has any problems with his ability and we've worked hard with Matt to improve his competiveness and consistency, and he's played some outstanding senior football as an 18-year-old young man who could still be playing colts footy.

"I'm really excited by both Nick and Matt's future and I think there will be a lot of AFL clubs looking closely at them. Whether they get drafted or not is not our choice, but they are both very much in the draftable bracket."

Rohan Kerr was one of West Perth's top recruits for the 2013 coming off being listed with Carlton for three years and he has made a tremendous impact.

He narrowly missed selection for Western Australia in the State game against Victoria, but is having an outstanding season both on the wing and half-forward. He is averaging almost 21 possessions a game including a high of 31 in Round 18 while also kicking 15 goals including six against Peel in Round 5.

The 21-year-old has fitted in immediately at West Perth with his kicking skills a particular highlight of his game.

"Rohan Kerr was on Carlton's list for three years and he's come over here, and has really enjoyed the WA lifestyle," Monaghan said.

"He has fitted in well, he is a good character to have around the club and has played some really good footy. At 21, people know he's been in the system and I think he is capable of playing at that level. His best football is really good."

Monaghan also expects Nelson, Black and Manning to all come under close attention from AFL recruiters with Nelson becoming an elite in-and-under midfielder, Black a tremendous wingman and Manning one of the best tacklers and pressure players in the competition.

"Then we've got Shane Nelson, Aaron Black and to a degree Kody Manning who have enough strengths and strings to their bow where if a side is looking for that type of player that they are outside chances of being drafted," he said.

"Kody's attack on the footy and his defensive mindset in our forward-line this year has been outstanding.

"Shane just has an uncanny ability to rack up possessions. There may be some issues about how well he kicks the football, but in terms of him finding the football, winning clearances and tackling, there has to be a premium placed on people who can find it 30 or 35 times as a 19-year-old playing league football.

"Blacky is a case where I think as a 55-game player at 20 years of age he is going to be one of those genuine mature-age draft picks. He could be a 100-game player here by the time he's only 22 or 23 and physically and mentally he is mature enough to be playing AFL footy. He is ticking all the boxes."

Andrew Strijk has also had an outstanding season for West Perth running off half-back and Monaghan wouldn’t be surprised if he attracts some attention as well.

"Andrew Strijk is another one who would be a bit of a left-field selection at 26 years of age. We've moved him to half-back, which we've always thought was his best position, and that wasn’t necessarily the views of West Coast who played him as a forward," Monaghan said.

"If there's a side out there who wants a strong marking, rebounding, beautiful kick off half-back then Andrew Strijk has plenty of years of AFL footy left in him. It would need to be a real area that a club needs to fill for him, but I wouldn’t completely rule out him being redrafted."

BY CHRIS PIKE