Brayden Ainsworth, Oscar Allen and Josh Kennedy celebrate a goal in round eight. Picture: AFL Photos

AS A dual Coleman medallist, it will come as no shock that Josh Kennedy has adopted emerging West Coast tall Oscar Allen as his protégé in the twilight of his stellar career.

But it's Allen's latest mentor that will surprise – the man he's knocked out of the Eagles' side.

After playing two of the first four games as Nic Naitanui's sidekick, Tom Hickey has turned to helping Allen as the 21-year-old adapts to life as the Eagles' back-up ruck.

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"Nic is a big one (mentor) and the other is Tom Hickey who's taken over as a ruck coach and mentor for me," Allen told this week.

"He's been an AFL ruckman for over 100 games and he has a lot of insight as to the best way to use your body.

"He understands what other rucks want to get out of the stoppage against me and he's been really good prepping me each week and reviewing games with me as well."


Allen was kept out in round one with an ankle injury and dropped after round three but is now all but locked in the Eagles line-up he admits required some "reshuffling" of its tall stocks after starting the season 1-3.

He was forced to spend more than 40 per cent of last week's 66-point win over Collingwood in the ruck with Naitanui (58 per cent game time) managed ahead of a six-day break into a clash with Geelong.

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Allen also added 14 disposals, three goals and an equal game-high 10 score involvements in his 29th AFL match.

And it's not only his rise in form that may be catching opposition off guard, his actual height (listed by the Eagles at 192cm) is helping his ruck craft.


"Thankfully in the last couple of years I've had a bit of a growth spurt so I'm 194cm, 195cm now," Allen said.

"Body work is a key and some of the other ruckmen have 10cm on me so it's going to be tough to be able to run and jump against them. I've got to be smart with my body work and give the mids best opportunity.

"I might've done a little bit of ruck work when I was playing colts footy at 17 or 18 but thought that might've been the centre bounce work done for me.

"It's a chance to get up around the ball and get involved."

Not only is Allen learning to ruck against giants of the competition, he has a lot on his plate while studying a degree of business, law and accounting at the University of Western Australia.

Then there's forward classes with Kennedy at the start and end of the week as he focuses on footwork, leading patterns and starting positions.

"(We) just (work on) little intricacies and tricks of the trade which he's picked up over the last 12-14 years playing AFL footy," Allen said.

"I'm trying to get as much out of him before he calls it which is hopefully still a little while to go.

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"Josh and I are in the same group at the moment since we've been sectioned off into groups of nine with the COVID protocols.

"After a game, Monday and Tuesday will mostly consist of watching vision of each other's games and more so me watching vision of his and him giving feedback on mine.

"Later in the week we look at potential opponents we'll be coming up against and how they like to individually play, whether they like to play in front of behind.

"As we go into the end of the week, we start to focus on our individual prep."

As for the Cats this week?

"They're a pretty diverse backline and a lot of guys who can play small and tall. It's hard to know who you'll get."

Allen will be one of 12 Eagles who take on the Cats at Optus Stadium who didn't feature in the club's 2018 premiership – just 33 matches ago.

After playing two games as a defender in his debut season that year, Allen was on standby until the morning of the game as Jeremy McGovern nursed a hip injury.

He could be forgiven for stewing on a lost opportunity it to this day.


"It was a pretty whirlwind week to be honest," Allen said.

"When it all happens so fast you don't really remember much of it.

"All I remember is being at the (Grand Final) Parade not really being sure if I was going to play or not and obviously how well the boys performed on the day and what a good game it was.

"It's something which I've put in the past I suppose for now and not really thinking and dwelling on too much."

As Allen points out: "We've had eight rounds this year and I think each round we've had a different premiership favourite".

But if the Eagles' form continues, he may well be sitting in a new-look Parade enjoying another whirlwind experience come this October as a key member of the Eagles' side.