Eagles scout out country talent
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.
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