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Eagle ready to step up and fill midfield void

Simpson: 'We're going to be different' West Coast coach Adam Simpson delves into a new and exciting look for his side
He's been our No.1 trainer as viewed by all of us at the club, so I'm not surprised at all
Adam Simpson on Jack Redden

OPPORTUNITY knocks for Jack Redden to stand up in West Coast's midfield and coach Adam Simpson wasn't surprised the ex-Lion delivered a strong first-up performance in Sunday's opening JLT Community Series clash.

More responsibility will fall on Redden's shoulders to become an inside ball-winner this season after the retirements of Brownlow medallists Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell.

The 27-year-old is determined to grab the chance after finding his feet at the Eagles in the back half of 2017, and racked up 26 touches – 12 contested – with six inside 50s and a goal in West Coast's two-point victory over Port Adelaide.  

Full match coverage and stats

"That's just flown on from the whole pre-season. He's been our No.1 trainer as viewed by all of us at the club, so I'm not surprised at all," Simpson said post-match.

"We need some guys to step up and I thought for the most part the balance of our midfield was pretty good, everyone contributed in their own way." 

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Redden arrived at the Eagles at the same time as ex-Swan Lewis Jetta in the 2015 off-season, with both recruits taking time to find their groove.

But Jetta also showed better signs last season and impressed in a new role across half-back at Leederville Oval, showcasing his exquisite kicking from 22 touches.

The 28-year-old also snatched victory with a booming 60m running shot in the dying stages to cap a promising performance.

"He seems to stay in the game a bit longer when he's down there (in defence) and he's got that accountability," Simpson said.

"As long as the defenders are happy with him playing down there – we've explored it the last few weeks – it might not be all year but it felt like he contributed pretty well there."

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Simpson also praised big man Scott Lycett for competing strongly against All Australian ruckman Paddy Ryder, and applauded Nathan Vardy's "presence" in attack.

"The combination worked pretty well. They've been fighting all pre-season for the spot, so hopefully with Nic (Naitanui) coming back there's good decisions to make," he said.

 

The Eagles will monitor Jeremy McGovern this week after his collision with Robbie Gray, while Brendon Ah Chee is likely to have scans on a rolled ankle. 

West Coast hopes to have goalsneak Willie Rioli (knee) back to play in Sunday's practice game against Fremantle alongside fellow exciting small forward Liam Ryan – who Simpson backed to keep flying for his spectacular marks after several near misses.

"Just play his natural game. As long as he's putting pressure on. He's exciting, but we need crumbing goals as well," Simpson said.

Port Adelaide also had plenty of fresh faces on Sunday, with ex-Melbourne onballer Dom Barry the most impressive after picking up 20 possessions and slotting a classy goal in the first term.

Coach Ken Hinkley warned it would take some time for his batch of new recruits – including Jack Watts, Steven Motlop, Lindsay Thomas and Jack Trengove – to jell with their teammates. 

WATCH: Ken Hinkley's full post-match media conference

"They all did little bits, at times. I think that's the key … we've got to take some time to come together and take some time to figure out each other's strengths and weaknesses," Hinkley said.

"It certainly showed today, some parts of it, they're going to make us a better side."

Motlop copped a whack to his shin in the last quarter on Sunday but Hinkley said the ex-Cat wouldn't have played any further part in the contest regardless of the injury.