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Shorter season could entice Falcons favourite back

Former West Perth captain and 2013 premiership player Jay Van Berlo thinks a shorter season could lure former Eagle and fellow premiership player Andrew Strijk out of retirement for one last hurrah in the WAFL competition.

Van Berlo was announced as West Perth’s ball legend for 2020 on Wednesday, with an image of his playing career to adorn the yellow Burley football for Falcons home games if and when the season gets underway.

The 31 year old was humbled by the honour of being named a ball legend so quickly after his career had concluded with the club.

“It is a big honour, something that came from left field I guess,” Van Berlo told Sports Drive on Thursday.

“I didn’t really anticipate ever being on the ball or being considered in that kind of category, a massive honour and makes the family certainly proud. I’m incredibly grateful.”

Van Berlo captained the club from 2014 to 2017, having played in the premiership side of 2013 that triumphed over archrivals East Perth.

When asked if the ball legend announcement meant an imminent return to WAFL football, Van Berlo was uncertain.

“I’ve remained in touch with the playing group, spoken to the coaches and people around the club, but it still is very much an unknown,” he said.

“I know they are keeping fit and running around and doing plenty of work where they can. It’s a bit of a bummer really, the one year I get on the ball they’re not even using the ball. Hopefully it does start up soon and we see the WAFL return.”

The former Docker said a shorter season could suit the Falcons and entice a recently retired champion to pull the boots back on.

“Let’s say they do play every team once, that results in a shortened season, it also opens the door for the likes of a former player like Andrew Strijk to potentially go back and insert himself back in to the competition,” he said.

“It’s anyone’s game really this year. If you get it right from the start in a shortened season you can find yourself in a very commanding position very quickly. And then who knows.”

Van Berlo believed that Strijk still had more to offer at WAFL level, despite announcing his retirement at the end of 2019 after 245 games and 294 goals.

“I keep pushing him (to comeback). I still think he’s got a bit left in him. He assures me he’s done but I keep saying it’s a short season, get out there and have a kick,” he said.

“He’s still in my mind one of the best players in the comp and left as one of the best players. Who knows?”

West Perth have been unable to return to train at Arena Joondalup this week due to their venue being owned by Venues West, who have discretion over the use of such facilities.

A potential return to play date for the WAFL is set to be announced in the next few weeks.

IMAGES: Perth Now, Zimbio.


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