NEW WEST Coast co-captain Liam Duggan wants to bring a defensive edge to the Eagles' midfield in 2024 after a strong pre-season that has seen him rotate between backline and onball roles with prized draftee Harley Reid.
Duggan, who was recruited as a midfielder but has made his name as a premiership defender, has long shaped as an onball option for coach Adam Simpson, with a 29-disposal effort against Essendon late last season highlighting what the 27-year-old is capable of in the role.
The Eagles now appear open to splitting Duggan's duties in 2024 and adding another mature body to an engine room that is expected to regularly include second-year pair Reuben Ginbey and Elijah Hewett as well as Reid.
Helping 2023 club champion Tim Kelly and a fit-again Elliot Yeo harness their attacking weapons in the middle will also form part of Duggan's role.
"I'll probably bring that defensive flavour a little bit with my background as a defender, and we've got some really attacking bulls in the midfield that we want to let play their natural game and show their stuff and express themselves," Duggan said on Tuesday.
"Part of my role will be to help those boys out with the defensive things and let guys like 'TK' and Harley and 'Yeoy' get to work and do their thing, which we all love to see.
"Harley and I have been rotating through the backline and midfield, and using Luke Edwards as well, who has been really impressive this pre-season.
"It's exciting to see where that will all land, but I'm enjoying the midfield time and I think Harley is enjoying some backline time as well."
Rotating through the midfield in an AFLX-type match simulation on Monday, Duggan was the victim of a competitive session when he copped a corked leg, highlighting that games were approaching as the bumps and bruises increase.
The left-footer pulled up sore but was pleased with how the group was approaching the summer after entering a match simulation phase earlier than previous seasons.
"It's been big sessions for a few weeks now, so the group is in a really good space and we're handling the workload really well," Duggan said.
"The boys are getting quite competitive out there, so it actually does feel like a game at times when we're out training.
"There's going to be a few hits and bruises and we saw some big collisions last week in our match simulation. They'll come, but that's what gets us ready for round 10, round 20 this year and sets you up for a big season.
"We've had a bit of a new look to the pre-season with (high performance manager) Mathew Inness coming on board, so things have been a bit different. But the boys have adjusted really well and kept up to speed."
As well as the intensity in training, Duggan said there was a new energy around the club thanks to the large injection of young players, who gathered for team photo day at Mineral Resources Park on Tuesday.
As he counts down the days until he can lead the Eagles as co-captain against Port Adelaide on March 17, the premiership backman said there was a lot to look forward to from that group based on the pre-season evidence.
"A few of these young blokes, apart from the energy they bring in the locker room, some of the things they're doing out on the field, a lot of them look ready to go. We're really excited by that," Duggan said.