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Saturday, February 24, 2018

West Coast Eagles forwards fighting for spots in opener

Veteran Mark LeCras says West Coast’s forwards understand they are vying for round one spots when they tackle Port Adelaide in the JLT Community Series game at Leederville Oval tomorrow.
The Eagles have named a strong team as they search for the right combination to start the season.
Josh Kennedy (ankle) and Willie Rioli (leg) won’t play, which gives LeCras, Liam Ryan, Jake Waterman, Brendon Ah Chee and Jack Darling the first opportunity to play together.
LeCras said the forwards had trained strongly but JLT form would tell the true story.
“It’s going to find its feet over the next week few weeks in the JLT series,” he said.
“We’ve got JK out at the moment so there’s going to be opportunities for guys as well.
“Jake Waterman really stood out for the young guys the other day, plus we’ve got Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan who haven’t really played much footy together
“The next few weeks are going to be big for us as to how our forward line starts to look in round one.”
LeCras has struggled for consistency in recent years.
He booted 32 goals from 19 games last year, but didn’t kick a goal in four consecutive matches midway through the year.
The 31-year-old said he had enjoyed an injury free pre-season and hoped that would lead to solid form.
“It’s something you’re always working on. I’m looking to go into the year with a fresh mindset and hopefully have an impact every week,” he said.
“The body is feeling really good. I’ve been able to get through pretty much all of the pre-season.”
West Coast knocked Port Adelaide out of last season’s finals series when Luke Shuey dramatically kicked the winning goal after the siren.
LeCras said the unpredictability of the past two seasons, where the Western Bulldogs and Richmond broke their premiership droughts, had him believing that anything was possible.
“It’s an exciting season for us,” he said.
“If you look at the end result with the premiers over the last two years, just about every club in the comp will be giving themselves a shot of finishing right up there. We’re no different.”
Ah Chee will play his first game as an Eagle against his former club.
The 24-year-old has played 27 games for the Power after they drafted him in 2011.
He acknowledged 2018 would make or break for his career.
“I’ve got a point to prove,” Ah Chee said.
“I had six years at Port and it didn’t really work out. The confidence in myself to play AFL is there. I need to bring it out to prove to myself that I can play AFL and this is the year to do it.”