WEST Coast captain Luke Shuey gave his midfield a much-needed boost on Friday night, lighting up the Eagles' intraclub hit-out in a significant step in his build to round one.
Shuey, who has been troubled by a calf issue in recent weeks, played two short periods of the internal trial and was excellent on a wing and at stoppages, breaking away from contests several times.
He then completed a short running session while the match continued and was rested ahead of a practice match against Fremantle scheduled for next Saturday at Mineral Resources Park.
Shots from tonight's match sim! pic.twitter.com/bXYkoYaqwt— West Coast Eagles (@WestCoastEagles) February 19, 2021
With top-line midfielders Elliot Yeo (osteitis pubis) and Tim Kelly (thumb) watching on, Shuey's return was a welcome sight for the Eagles ahead of their round one clash against Gold Coast on March 21.
Ruckman Nic Naitanui and defender Jeremy McGovern were sidelined for the clash, with the pair managed and set to train on Saturday morning.
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Defender-turned-midfielder Liam Duggan was impressive early as he prepares for a role change in 2021, while Andrew Gaff was prolific on a wing and used the ball superbly.
The Eagles started with teams divided into what appeared their best line-up in blue against the rest in yellow, before switching players around after two one-sided periods.
Recruit Alex Witherden and impressive defender Josh Rotham were both in blue early, while tall Jarrod Brander was switched onto the blue team after two periods and lifted.
The 22-year-old, who played eight games last season and has been unable to cement a clear role, was used forward and on a wing and crashed a pack hard in one impressive piece of play.
He finished among the Eagles' better performers and should again compete for selection early in the season.
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Exciting young forward Oscar Allen played predominantly forward and kicked four goals while Jack Darling kicked two, with Josh Kennedy (calf) and Jake Waterman (back) sidelined.
Harry Edwards and Nathan Vardy were the ruckmen, with Bailey Williams (quad) unavailable.
Other Eagles sidelined for the hit-out were young ruckman Callum Jamieson (groin), midfielder Mark Hutchings (knee), speedster Jack Petruccelle (hamstring) and defender Jackson Nelson (hamstring).
The Eagles suffered no fresh injuries, although WAFL Eagle Ben Fitzgerald, who joined in as a top-up player, copped a boot to the head when trying to smother and required treatment from trainers.