Priddis backs Eagles young guns in derby - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Priddis backs Eagles young guns in derby

Justin Chadwick 23/07/2011 09:01:22 AM Comments (0)

West Coast workhorse Matt Priddis is confident the club's fledgling midfielders will be able to cover for the absence of Daniel Kerr in Sunday's western derby showdown against arch AFL rivals Fremantle.

With Kerr again missing as he nurses a series of sore spots around his rehabilitated hamstring, Priddis' ability to shake off Fremantle's best tagger will go a long way towards determining West Coast's chances of victory.

Priddis has been in the form of his life this year, averaging 26 possessions and six tackles a game to help transform the Eagles from wooden spooners into top-four contenders.

Although Priddis is the first to admit his job is made tougher whenever Kerr's not around, the 26-year-old believed West Coast possessed the talent to overcome his absence, much like they did in their round eight derby triumph when Kerr was a late withdrawal.

"We've had some really good development from guys like Luke Shuey, Scott Selwood and Brad Ebert," Priddis told AAP.

"The way Kerr approaches the footy and his speed and agility around a stoppage is first class and it's definitely helped us in that area.

"He hits his clearances with speed and he breaks the line.

"It's something we haven't had for the last few years. But I think Luke Shuey has picked up that aspect of his game. He's a similar player to Kerrey and his development has been fantastic."

While the feats of Kerr, Nic Naitanui, Shuey, Jack Darling, Dean Cox and Andrew Embley have regularly drawn big praise this year, Priddis' in-and-under efforts rarely generate the same level of excitement amongst supporters.

The 185cm on-baller says he wouldn't want it any other way.

"I prefer being a quiet achiever," Priddis said.

"It's probably a bit like my personality anyway.

"Going under the radar - there's less pressure on you I suppose. You don't have the big superstar status that comes with that."

Priddis, who grew up idolising St Kilda great Robert Harvey, has developed into one of West Coast's most respected players since being snared via the rookie draft in 2006.

The hard-working midfielder recently re-signed with the club until the end of 2013, saying he has no intention of ever leaving.

"I'm a WA boy and grew up supporting West Coast, so for me to know I'll play my career out at West Coast is a huge honour and one I'm very proud of," he said.

With Fremantle just a game and percentage adrift of West Coast, Priddis acknowledged the stakes were huge in derby encounter XXXIV.

The Eagles, whose only change was to bring in Patrick McGinnity for Koby Stevens, have had a dream run with injury this year, but Fremantle coach Mark Harvey warned West Coast that the good fortune could also have a downside.

"From a stability point of view that's really good for them (not having many injuries)," Harvey said.

"But as we know the season grows old and sometimes, and I've been through it myself with young players particularly, the loading can get them."

The Dockers were forced to make two changes, recalling Nick Suban and Ryan Crowley for injured duo Roger Hayden (leg) and Rhys Palmer (soreness).

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