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Forward line the strength: Worsfold

Nathan Schmook  February 26, 2013 8:04 AM

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The return of players like Mark LeCras has John Worsfold salivating over the Eagles' prospects this year

Our planning is around having our best squad available against every other team's best squad, and we believe we're up there with them all.
WEST Coast coach John Worsfold believes he will have a forward line as potent as any in the AFL at his disposal as the Eagles set their sights on this year's premiership.

With star forwards Mark LeCras (knee) and Josh Kennedy (ankle) returning after injury ruined their 2012 campaigns, the Eagles are well placed to improve on last year's semi-final appearance.

Worsfold said the club's strength this season would be underpinned by depth, particularly in the forward line where Mark Nicoski, Josh Hill, Brad Dick and Ashton Hams are all pushing for roles.  

And after back-to-back finals appearances, the coach said West Coast's list was getting close to a premiership profile, challenging his players now to capitalise.

"We can talk about that because we think that's where our squad's at," Worsfold told AFL.com.au.

"Three years ago we couldn't really say that. At that stage we were talking about building for the future. We've done that and that's why we want to look at how high we can get up.

"We want to have a real dip at being one of the top teams in the comp this year.

"Our planning has to be around having our best squad available against every other team's best squad, and we believe we're up there with them all. That's currently where that's at."

Worsfold, who has agreed to delay talks on his new contract until the end of the season, recalled the faith West Coast had shown in its young players in the wooden spoon season of 2010.

He said the club was expecting a pay-off for the hard work put in during a three-year absence from the finals between 2008 and 2010, with the club's core group of young players ready to enter their prime.

"I made the call three years ago that I believe in the talent we had within our squad and it was just a matter of getting some time and experience into them," he said.

"They're the ones that are going to earn the rewards. They become premiership players if they win the flag, so I think the reward is there for them to want to go after it.       
 
"We've got a lot of players in our squad that will improve again over the next one, two and three seasons. Guys like (Andrew) Gaff and (Jack) Darling aren't going to reach their best [this year].

"Even (Luke) Shuey and Scott Selwood, they're going to be better again when they're 23, 24 and 25. (Nic) Naitanui is the same."

Worsfold highlighted the pre-season form of 2006 premiership players Andrew Embley, Darren Glass and Adam Selwood, and said the club's senior players remained critical to West Coast's prospects this year.

However, he said the club had been planning for the eventual retirement of its key senior players and it was well placed to keep its premiership push on track.

"If senior players retire at the end of this year we believe we're in a position where it won't diminish our push going forward," Worsfold said.

"We've built that coverage and we'll keep it ticking over.

"Our drafting this year was a little bit for this year, but also looking for if (Daniel) Kerr and Embley aren't available, well we've got (Jamie) Cripps and (Cale) Morton who we think are AFL quality players, which they've shown already.

"We've already got that planning happening."

Nathan Schmook is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Nathan