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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

Eagles player development needs improvement: Sumich

WA football legend Peter Sumich believes the case of West Coast youngster Rhett Bazzo is symbolic of the club’s issues with player development.

The 19-year-old key defender was tactically substituted out of the game in the second quarter of the Eagles’ 5-point win over North Melbourne at Optus Stadium yesterday, with coach Adam Simpson saying the move was preconceived due to the incoming Elliot Yeo being on managed minutes in his return from a hip issue.

Sumich told Sports Breakfast Bazzo would be a “very good player” but he had not improved as he may have in his first two years with the club.

“I thought he might have had a small injury, we don’t know, but if it was just tactical, it was bizarre,” Sumich said.

“Simpson might’ve just had enough, he might’ve done something that we didn’t see out on the field that we didn’t like.

“I look at the kid, I’ve watched him the last couple of years in the WAFL … his development’s stagnated. This is why it’s so important to get the right people in that area.

“I think they’ve got it the wrong way around, they should’ve been teaching him how to play one-on-one and use your body and compete in that area, then once you’ve conquered that, go to the so-called zoning.”

The Eagles snapped their 16-game losing streak in the victory over the Kangaroos, with Sumich saying they were the better side for much of the day.

“North Melbourne just played two blocks of twenty minutes of football, that was it, and they still nearly won the game,” he said.

“Let’s be honest about it, it wasn’t a great spectacle, it wasn’t a great game, but it’s a win and it’s great for fans to celebrate and sing the song.

“Chesser and Hewett … they’ve got something to offer to the side over the next ten years, which is a real positive. Then you’ve got Hough, he didn’t have a great day, but he’s got something to offer as well, Long, he’s learning his craft. They’ve got four good players there who I think can produce.”

Across town, Fremantle continued their excellent recent record at GMHBA Stadium by registering a shock 7-point win over Geelong on Saturday.

Sumich said the Dockers’ performance was outstanding but it raised further questions over why they had endured such a poor season.

“To win premierships, to win finals, you’ve got to handle the pressure all year. You’re not going to win every game, we understand that,” he said.

“They’ve got to ask themselves the question as players, why do we disappear when the whips are cracking and we need to be around and we’re not playing the footy we should? That’s something Justin and the match committee and the club have got to go through.

“It’s disappointing that they put up a performance like that and the questions come.”

The Eagles will look to continue their winning momentum against Essendon at Marvel Stadium at 11:45 am on Saturday, while the Dockers must beat Brisbane at Optus Stadium at 2:40 pm on Sunday to keep their slim September hopes alive.



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