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Saturday, August 18, 2018

West Coast defender Tom Barrass ready for anything in critical Demons clash

West Coast defender Tom Barrass admits he isn’t sure what to expect from Melbourne’s attack in Sunday’s clash at Optus Stadium.

The Demons will be without star forward Jesse Hogan after he was ruled out for the rest of the season with a serious foot injury. Hogan is Melbourne’s leading goal kicker with 47 majors for the season, while Tom McDonald has booted 42.

The Demons have added 21-year-old Sam Weideman to replace Hogan, but he has kicked only eight goals from 15 career matches, including two this season.

Barrass said he learnt of Hogan’s injury before it was public knowledge, but that hadn’t helped him plan for how the Demons would play.

“Jesse is a personal friend of mine so I knew a little bit earlier than the rest that he wasn’t going to play,” Barrass said.

“Jesse was always a seriously good player growing up and he used to chop me up. It’s always good to test yourself against the best, so it’s a bit of a shame he’s not out there.

“But whoever comes my way, I’ll be happy to have a crack at. I’m not 100 per cent how they’ll line up but Weideman is a chance to play there. We understand how Melbourne play and how they want to move the ball. I have to focus on my strengths too, so I’ll just try to find the balance between those things.”

Barrass enters the game in strong form after collecting a season-high 13 intercept possessions against Port Adelaide last Saturday.

While the 22-year-old has become a key part of the defensive unit alongside Jeremy McGovern, Shannon Hurn and Brad Sheppard, he admits he is adjusting to playing in the back half after playing as a midfielder or forward as a youngster.

“I’m only just starting to feel confident in my ability,” he said.

“Coming into a footy club is a challenging time, especially when you’re a key defender who is not physically ready yet.

“I’ve figured out that you spend your career chasing your tail with things like weight, strength and endurance.

“The game style keeps changing and then you have to change your craft.”