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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Ruthven

"Go the kids, put them in": Sumich take on Eagles selection

Former Eagles premiership player Peter Sumich says West Coast needs to field more youth in its playing 23 to encourage development. 

West Coast Eagles started its season on Sunday with a 50-point loss to Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval. 

Inaccuracy in front of goals cost Port Adelaide a wider margin, booting 17.24 (120) as they picked apart West Coast’s defensive structure. 

In his debut as Port Adelaide club captain, Connor Rozee was unable to be contained, leading the charge with 27 touches and two goals. 

Sumich told SportFM the scoreboard ‘told the story’ and that the Eagles were likely to get ‘heavily scored against’ moving forward.  

“There were some good signs with some great efforts from certain players and Harley Reid having 16 touches - that's a good sign,” he said.

“But not great signs on the scoreboard… West Coast have to look at the defensive side of their game as much as they're looking to attack more which was, positive 10 goals off 20 scoring shots which's a bit of a positive. 

“As long as they can keep improving in that area but make sure the defensive area they got to tighten up a little bit.” 

With Rozee and Eagles forward Oscar Allen leading their sides, the youth across both teams was evident. 

Port Adelaide had an average age of 26.2 years and 121 games of experience, while West Coast had an average age of 26.8 years and 123 games of experience. 

With veteran winger Andrew Gaff being subbed off and replaced by Campbell Chesser after receiving four touches, Sumich says West Coast needs to make hard decisions. 

“Gaff's the one that I think can go, because you had Chesser as sub. To me, that's ridiculous and you're playing Gaff. I just don't understand any of that,” he said.

“Go the kids, put them in. The result's going to be the same, but the kids get more experienced, more games. I went through it in 1989. 

“We weren't ready, but he played us and we got better as the year went on, and matured probably quicker from that experience of getting a few beltings and knowing we weren't good enough, but just kept having a crack and we got a resulting year to come.” 

West Coast took the field with two debutants - 2023 national draft first pick Harley Reid, and former Hawk Tyler Brockman. 

Reid came straight out of the gates, accumulating eight touches in the first quarter, and finished the game with 16 disposals, two tackles and five clearances. 

Sumich says Reid looks like a ‘superstar,’ but his supporting young midfielders need to be his Zak Butters and Rozee.

“Chesser, Ginbey, we've got question marks on how good they're going to be,” he said. 

“I think they're going to be starting 18 players, but are they going to be a Butters, Rozee type player? We know Reid will be. He's a Horne-Francis.

“Who's their Butters? Who's their Rozee? Ginbey and Chesser are going to be that. Right now, I can't see it, but they're starting 18 players. 

“There's a lot more pain to come, and I'm not talking 12-24 months. I'm talking five-plus years before they get anywhere unless they recruit to do something spectacular.”



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