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Young Eagles hope to avoid 'annoying' their elders

Young Eagle Jackson Nelson trains in the shadow of Matt Priddis. (Picture: West Coast)
You've got to set your standards high if you want to be an elite player
First-year Eagle Tom Lamb
WEST Coast recruit Damien Cavka has made it his mission to shadow Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis and Eagles vice captain Scott Selwood during his first AFL pre-season.

The four Eagles recruits from last week's NAB AFL Draft - Liam Duggan, Tom Lamb, Jackson Nelson and Cavka - were unveiled at Patersons Stadium on Tuesday. 

Cavka was the last of the four Victorians picked by West Coast with selection No.66. 


The 184cm Calder Cannons midfielder says he is trying to replicate the habits of Priddis and Selwood, who he is currently staying with, without trying to invade their space. 

"I'm trying not to be too annoying," Cavka said.

"I'm watching what they do, and trying to replicate what they do to a tee. 

"They are a couple of people that aren't too bad to look up to and follow in their footsteps, which is what I am trying to do."

Cavka slipped through to the fourth round of the draft despite his elite endurance, having run 16.8 beep test earlier this year. He said his draft number was motivation for him moving forward. 

"It's a motivating factor going that late to try and prove others wrong, and really repay the faith the Eagles have shown in giving me the opportunity," Cavka said.

"I will be trying to work as hard as I can to prove myself and become a part of the team."

The four players trained with West Coast for the first time on Monday. Lamb stood out like a beacon due to his shock of blonde hair that drew comparisons with Essendon midfielder Dyson Heppell. 

"I've copped a bit about that," Lamb said. 

"Trying to copy Dyson Heppell, everyone says. I've had the hair for a while. I’m just waiting for the coach to tap me on the shoulder and tell me to cut it."

Lamb, a 193cm half-forward, is living with Josh Kennedy and is hoping to replicate the deeds of St Kilda star Nick Riewoldt.

"I suppose you've got to set your standards high if you want to be an elite player," Lamb said. 

"I'm at the elite level now so I think he's a good player to watch, as are Josh and Jack Darling. Both have high work rates and are exceptional players. I think it’s a good thing to look up to them and try and replicate their game."

Duggan, the Eagles' first pick at No.11, is expected to become a star in the AFL, with his coach from St Patrick's College in Ballarat proclaiming he could be the next Robbie Flower. 

The midfielder said his first training session was an eye-opening experience. 

"You notice a step up from what we've been doing in under-18s footy," Duggan said. 

"Straight away the intensity and the skill level was just a step up."   

Fellow midfielder Jackson Nelson was in awe of his new teammate Priddis.

"The other day at training when he's running past you it's like ‘wow, you are at the top level now,’" Nelson said. 

"It's really good to have those guys around you - it's awesome."

Nelson has had a taste of AFL life already. As a part of AIS-AFL Academy program he trained with Geelong for a week during the 2014 pre-season. But he said his first meeting with Eagles coach Adam Simpson revealed how complex the AFL can be, with the recruits expected to learn a raft of new football terminology very quickly.
 
"There's 72 new pieces of language that we need to learn," Nelson said.
 
"You've got to learn the game plan and everything else so I'm looking forward to it.”