Belief drives Royals finals push
East Perth defender Stan Wright says a greater sense of belief is driving the club up the ladder this year.
The Royals have not featured in the finals since the West Coast alignment ended in 2018 but have started the 2023 season strongly, currently sitting in fifth position on the ladder with a 5-3 record after recording a 36-point win over West Perth in the WA Day derby on Monday.
Wright told Sports Breakfast he had never been part of a better squad at the club.
“In years gone by we probably didn’t have a strong enough list to be super competitive, we would show glimpses of some really good footy but because of our inexperience we’d drop off,” Wright said.
“In this season, probably bar the game against South Fremantle, we probably haven’t been beaten by a better team, we’ve beaten ourselves in a way, I feel.
“That was the message from (coach) Ross (McQueen), our best footy’s more than good enough to match it with the best teams in the competition. The game on Monday was a huge test for us and we’ve come out with flying colours, so we’ve taken a lot of confidence out of that.
“Our review last night was really, really good. Ross was picking out small things we could’ve done a little bit better, but it was probably the most positive review I’ve been a part of, which was nice.”
Although it failed to eventuate, the Royals were in danger of losing one of their stars to the AFL with The West Australian reporting Sydney showed late mid-season draft interest in state game Simpson Medalist Angus Schumacher, with Wright saying he was delighted to have one of his best friends at the club staying.
“From a footy point of view for him, it would’ve been awesome. He definitely deserves a spot on a list, there’s a lot worse players on a list than Schuey,” he said.
“He’s an absolute star of the WAFL competition and we’re just rapt to have him for the remainder of this year.
“He’s still quite young, I think he’s only just turned 24, so there’s definitely an opportunity for him to go to the higher level and I think he deserves that.”
East Perth’s next test comes against East Fremantle, a game with huge implications with only a percentage separating the two sides looking to keep pace with the competition’s pacesetters.
Wright said he was expecting the Sharks to come out firing after their derby loss.
“They’ve got a lot of really good inside players, Milan Murdock springs to mind, Kyle Baskerville as well, and the Marsh boys will certainly give us a strong test,” he said.
“We’re really keen to back up our good win on Monday against another really, really good side that are probably in their premiership window that we’re looking to jump into in the next year or so.”
The clash between the Royals and the Sharks gets underway at 2:10pm on Sunday at Leederville Oval.
IMAGE: The West Australian.