Ea­gles scout out coun­try tal­ent

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Training & Education -

with Josh Kennedy PLAY­ING in the Top End was al­ways go­ing to be a unique ex­pe­ri­ence and the game against Mel­bourne is one that none of the West Coast play­ers will ever for­get.

We woke to the news on the day be­fore the game that our for­mer as­sis­tant coach Phil Walsh had been killed. That was dif­fi­cult for us to get our heads around, par­tic­u­larly given the cir­cum­stances.

Once the AFL made the de­ci­sion that our game would go ahead, it was a mat­ter of pre­par­ing for the game as nor­mal.

Phil was at our club for five years and was cen­tral in de­vel­op­ing our game plan at the time, which re­volved around the for­ward press. As an as­sis­tant, he had a role in shap­ing the ca­reer of all play­ers he came into con­tact with in some way.

At the time of his death, he was se­nior coach at the Ade­laide Crows. We play them this week at Su­bi­aco Oval, so that will be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent too. It will be the first time the Crows have played since his death, given the de­ci­sion to can­cel their game against Gee­long.

Ev­ery in­di­vid­ual deals with sit­u­a­tions like this in their own way, but it was good to get out and play in Dar­win on Satur­day.

Given it was the first time we had played for premier­ship points in the Top End, it was al­ways go­ing to be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. Deal­ing with the heat in early July was a unique but en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ter­ri­to­ri­ans re­ally love their footy and there were a lot of West Coast fans there. It might have been a Mel­bourne home game, but it felt like we had the ad­van­tage in crowd sup­port. WEST Coast play­ers be­came prospec­tive AFL scouts last week as they took a look at po­ten­tial fu­ture stars in ac­tion at UWA Sports Park.

Se­nior Schools Coun­try Week, which brings to­gether ath­letes from a wide range of sports, was in full swing as stu­dents from re­gional WA con­verged on the city, with the Ea­gles keep­ing a keen eye on the coun­try re­gions’ football tal­ent.

Coun­try schools par­tic­i­pate in bas­ket­ball, dance, boys and girls football, hockey, net­ball, soc­cer, speech and de­bat­ing, touch and vol­ley­ball.

Ea­gles skip­per Shan­non Hurn, who hails from ru­ral South Aus­tralia, said it was a great op­por­tu­nity for coun­try teenagers to show their tal­ents.

“Be­ing a coun­try boy, I al­ways like com­ing to these events and show­ing a bit of sup­port,” he said. “When I was in pri­mary school, I played in a few Coun­try Weeks.

“Be­ing here at the Ea­gles, I’ve been to 10 of them now, so it’s great to come along and see the kids – they’ve come from all over the State. It’s great for ev­ery­one to come and spend some time to­gether, play some games and en­joy each other’s com­pany.”

WA Football Com­mis­sion schools com­pe­ti­tions man­ager Clay­ton An­der­son said Coun­try Week could turn out to be more than a bit of fun for par­tic­i­pants.

“It is a breed­ing ground for the fu­ture stars of to­mor­row,” he said.

“WAFL clubs and their tal­ent de­part­ments are cer­tainly down look­ing at these par­tic­u­lar events and hop­ing to find their stars of to­mor­row.”

While the fo­cus last week was on coun­try sports stars, the Ea­gles will next week em­brace metropoli­tan fans with a spe­cial school hol­i­day op­por­tu­nity.

The Rick’s Rook­ies train­ing day is sched­uled for next Wed­nes­day, July 15, and will fea­ture ac­tiv­i­ties through­out the sta­dium, a chance to watch the main squad train and au­to­graph op­por­tu­ni­ties with the play­ers.

Com­mu­nity News­pa­per Group is an af­fil­i­ated part­ner of the West Coast Ea­gles.

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