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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

West Coast Eagles’ new strategy will kick in, says midfielder Liam Duggan

West Coast are backing their game plan to produce success this season and are treating Sunday’s 62-point thumping from Fremantle as a one-off event instead of a cause for concern.
The Eagles will open 2018 with a home match against premiership fancies Sydney at Optus Stadium without Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy.
West Coast’s struggles to score during their three pre-season hit-outs has stood out, but defender Liam Duggan said the squad had been experimenting with key parts of its game in a bid to be perfectly prepared for round one.
“Physically we’re ready to go. We’re tweaking a few things but our game plan is set and we’re going to back that in 100 per cent,” Duggan said.
“It was probably a mindset thing on the weekend. We just didn’t bring it like Freo did. It’s nothing major.
“It’s not going to become a pattern. We’re going to see that as an event and move on pretty quick.”
There are still doubts over star ruckman Nic Naitanui’s availability despite his encouraging comeback game with East Perth last Saturday.
The Eagles’ round one team will be vastly different to the one that lost last season’s semifinal to Greater Western Sydney. Matt Priddis, Sam Mitchell, Sharrod Wellingham and Drew Petrie are no longer on the list, while Kennedy, Eric Mackenzie (toe) and Nathan Vardy (groin) are injured.
Duggan said the pre-season had been important for the Eagles to adjust to the changes.
“Obviously we’ve got a new-look forward line. It’s probably the freshest look we’ve got,” he said.
“It’s a time to try a few new things ... a couple of new plays, some new stoppage set-ups. Now is the time to do it and every club would have done it. Now we’ll knuckle down, see what worked for us and we’ll use that for round one.”
Duggan, 21, yesterday signed a three-year contract extension which will keep him at the club until the end of 2021.
He has played 46 games and is expected to spend more time in the midfield after developing as a half-back last season. Duggan captained the Eagles during the AFLX tournament and he wants to become an integral part of the team.
“We’ve still got a great group of senior players who are ready to lead the charge,” he said. “I can shift my focus purely to the footy and the job at hand. For me, it’s just a peace of mind thing.”