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Worsfold confident Eagles can take the next step

Justin Chadwick  March 7, 2013 12:14 PM

Eagle delight: Frenchman finds form This goal from Mark LeCras will delight West Coast fans
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The return of Mark LeCras will be a huge boost for the Eagles

We don't want to be a reasonable performer in the finals this year. We want to be a strong performer. We want to be a lot better

IF WEST Coast coach John Worsfold had ordered a Chinese meal in 2012, his fortune cookie would have come to the table broken.

Good luck definitely wasn't on the Eagles' side last year, with the star-studded forward line decimated by injuries.

All Australian forward Mark LeCras was ruled out for the year after injuring his knee at pre-season training.

Fellow medium forward Mark Nicoski also had his season ruined when he tore his hamstring during the NAB Cup Grand Final.

And the damage was complete when spearhead Josh Kennedy was struck down with a serious ankle injury in round five, ruling him out of action for 15 weeks.

Despite losing three of its best forwards, plus wingman Andrew Embley for a fair chunk, West Coast battled on manfully to finish fifth, bowing out to Collingwood in the semi-finals.

The Eagles have now made back-to-back finals series since claiming the wooden spoon in 2010.

And if the club can avoid a repeat of last year's debilitating injuries, a fourth flag beckons.

"We've been building a team that's been a reasonable performer in the finals in the past two years," Worsfold said.

"But we don't want to be a reasonable performer in the finals this year. We want to be a strong performer. We want to be a lot better.

"Young teams in big finals can struggle.

"But I think we're out of that hump of saying we're a young, developing squad. We've matured beyond that."

One of West Coast's biggest strengths is its absence of a noticeable weakness.

The defence, led by skipper Darren Glass, is strong, reliable and flexible, with a number of shut-down players complemented by rebounders like Will Schofield, Beau Waters and Shannon Hurn.

The midfield, boasting Daniel Kerr, Luke Shuey, Scott Selwood, Matt Priddis, Andrew Gaff and recruit Sharrod Wellingham, has the potential to become one of the best in the competition.

The ruck duo of Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui are already the League's standard-bearers, with the pair winning All Australian honours last season.

And West Coast's fit-again forward line has the firepower to blow teams off the park.

Jack Darling, still just 20, booted 53 goals last season, and has the potential to reach 70 this year.

Kennedy and LeCras are proven performers, while opposition defences are further stretched when Cox and Naitanui spend their 'rest' periods in attack.

Even the little guys are dangerous, with Nicoski, Josh Hill, Brad Dick and Ashton Hams set to battle it out for the small forward roles.

Quinten Lynch's defection to Collingwood came as a slight shock.

But with West Coast possessing so much talent, the Big Q will be easily replaced.

Most of the ingredients are there for West Coast to go all the way this year.

A sprinkling of luck might be all that is needed to ensure it happens.