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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Luke Shuey in line to be West Coast Eagles’ midfield general

West Coast midfield coach Sam Mitchell has backed Luke Shuey to take over from Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis as the club’s on-ball general this season.
The Eagles are preparing for a new-look brigade following the retirements of Priddis and Mitchell. Elliot Yeo is expected to spend more time in the midfield, Brendan Ah Chee has arrived from Port Adelaide and Jack Redden should return to where he made his name at Brisbane after spending time across half-forward last year.
With significant change occurring, Mitchell said it was crucial to find a player capable of providing the leadership which Priddis displayed during his 240 games.
Shuey is West Coast’s vice-captain and Mitchell said he would shoulder that responsibility.
“I think Luke Shuey will lead the way in the midfield,” Mitchell said.
“When things aren’t going well, I’m sure I’ll be on the phone to him when he’s on the bench and saying ‘what’s going on down there?’ He’s experienced enough now to see what’s going on.
“Pridda was the leader of this club’s midfield, from what I can tell as an outsider, for the last 10 years. There were some great players going through there in that stage but so much of what this midfield had been about has been off the back of Pridda.”
Mitchell revealed the coaches had empowered the team’s leaders to have a greater tactical role this season. The players have been asked to design training drills to assist with implementing the team’s game plan, and Mitchell singled out Jeremy McGovern for his ability to teach his teammates defensive techniques.
West Coast’s season will begin with matches against Adelaide and Collingwood during next week’s AFLX tournament, foll-owed by their JLT Community Series games against Port Adelaide and Fremantle on February 24 and March 11.
The Eagles hope Nic Naitanui will play during the pre-season but Mitchell said they were more concerned about having him ready for round one. Naitanui still hasn’t started competitive training despite not playing for 18 months in his recovery from a knee reconstruction.
“The risk of putting him into competitive work at any point is there,” Mitchell said. “So whenever we do that, it needs to be at the right time and with as little amount of risk as possible.
“He’ll implement that over the next couple of weeks.
“He’s a compromised athlete with his knees. That’s going to be an issue for him but his best is still going to be absolutely outstanding. How often we see it and how soon we can see it, only time will tell.”