Young Eagle Harry Edwards in action during his debut game against Geelong in 2020. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

WEST Coast could have found a "special" player in backline rookie Harry Edwards after a recent growth spurt pushed the key-position player to 200cm. 

Edwards is listed as 197cm on the Eagles' website but returned to training this year having added another 3-4cm, according to teammate Brad Sheppard. 

He is now as tall as ruck pair Nathan Vardy and Bailey Williams, who he has also worked with this pre-season as a back-up option if injuries hit the Eagles' big man department. 

Primarily a tall defender, however, he impressed during a period of match simulation on Tuesday, playing on star forward Jack Darling and peeling off to intercept. 


Sheppard was hopeful the 20-year-old would get a chance this season to add to his one senior game, which was cut short in the second quarter against Geelong when he collided with Sheppard in a marking contest.  

"He's still got a lot of developing within himself, but you see the way he reads the game, he's going to be a pretty special player," Sheppard said on Tuesday. 

CIRCLE THEM IN YOUR CALENDAR The 20 matches of 2021 you won't want to miss

"Any key-position player who is 200cm is a real asset to your footy club. 

"He's learning from the best and he's really like a sponge out there. Hopefully he gets his opportunity again this year. 

"He's still dirty with me after I knocked him out in his debut game."


West Coast played about one quarter of match simulation on Tuesday, with fellow youngster Zane Trew another standout with his ball-winning in the midfield and clean kicking inside 50. 

Star midfielder Tim Kelly stepped out of the match practice and instead ran on a separate oval, while the majority of the Eagles' rehab group was not present. 

Ruckman Williams walked and jogged laps, while defender Jackson Nelson put in a running session as he recovers from a low-end hamstring strain.  

2021 FREE AGENTS Check out who is up for grabs

Sheppard said he had enjoyed the condensed pre-season and the fast elevation to match simulation work. 

The responsibility had been with the players, he said, to return to the club in a condition that allowed them to ramp up their program quickly. 

"No doubt it's been hard, (and) the training itself has elevated in that January period, but physically feeling pretty good and I've quite enjoyed it," the All-Australian defender said. 

"Really the onus is on the individual to come back in good shape, because if you come back out of shape that ramp is probably a bit too great to try and keep up. 

"We're starting to get into match simulation and hopefully get the intraclub out this week."

The Eagles have plans to play an intraclub match on Friday as they ramp up the program ahead of their AAMI Community Series match against Port Adelaide on March 7. 

The club is also in talks with Fremantle about the details of a practice match between the clubs. 

West Coast will likely road-test a backline change in that match, with Liam Duggan continuing to impress while training in the midfield, creating an opportunity at half-back. 

Recruit Alex Witherden is tackled by Ben Johnson during an Eagles training session in December. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Recruit Alex Witherden shapes as a likely inclusion in defence, but Sheppard said form would dictate the make-up of the back six, with up to 10 players jockeying for selection.  

"Witherden has slotted in seamlessly and he definitely adds another string to our bow," he said.  

AAMI COMMUNITY SERIES Check out the pre-season fixture

"He's elite by foot and makes some really good decisions with ball in hand. He definitely is a handy addition to the side. 

"But we've got a lot of depth in each position so it's going to be who's in form at the time to be in our best 22."