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'Too many mids': Eagles change forward mix

Justin Chadwick, AAP  December 6, 2017 3:50 PM

AFL 2017 Training - West Coast Eagles 201117

Willie Rioli may be one of the small forwards the Eagles turn to

Last year with our side and the balance, we had too many mids in our side

WEST Coast will adopt Richmond's recipe for success in a bid to become more dynamic in attack next season.

The Tigers surged to the 2017 premiership on the back of a small forward set-up that for the most part only featured one genuine tall in Jack Riewoldt.

The tackling pressure and speed offered by the smaller forwards played a crucial role in helping Richmond win its first flag since 1980.

West Coast have lacked star power in their small forward department in recent years.

Mark LeCras was once rated the league's best medium-sized forward, but his performances have waned to the point where his future was even being questioned last season.

Josh Hill was axed at the end of an underwhelming 2017 campaign, while Jamie Cripps is an honest performer but hardly a game-breaker.

However, Eagles coach Adam Simpson is excited by the weapons he will have at his disposal for 2018.

Willie Rioli was plagued by hamstring issues last season, but is now injury free and will provide much-needed X-factor up forward, while mature-age draft recruit Liam Ryan looks ready to step straight into AFL ranks after dominating in the WAFL last year.

And Simpson said midfielder Daniel Venables, a former first-round pick whose debut season was ruined by a footy injury, would also add value to the forward line.

Those speedy players will join two-time Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling in a potent attack.

"Last year with our side and the balance, we had too many mids in our side," Simpson said on Wednesday.

"It was probably from the lack of options we had as forwards.

"You would think with Ryan and Rioli, LeCras and Cripps and someone like a Venables, they will all be playing in the same side and all be playing forward. We will be a different looking side."

Simpson stressed his plan to go smaller up forward wasn't necessarily going to be a carbon copy of what Richmond did.

"You look at your list and what your strengths are. You adapt your style around that type of profile," Simpson said.

"You've got to take a little bit of what the premiers have done and obviously Adelaide as well. Everyone is looking at that. Whether you copy it is another story."