You would expect the Eagles to line-up much like they did last season in their top four finish, but a bit of the gloss will be taken off with a substantial hole now left in the forward line.
However unfortunate the situation is for West Coast, it at least has the NAB Cup to experiment with different options up front before the beginning of the home and away season.
It will be their opponents, Fremantle and Essendon, who will be looking to exploit these weaknesses. Freo will be keen to show off its new youngster in high-flying Hayden Crozier, who was drafted at pick 20 last year not long after taking this hanger.
Any Bombers fan will admit that their side is going in undermanned for the flight to Perth, resting captain Jobe Watson as well as Dyson Heppell, Dustin Fletcher and Michael Hurley amongst others. Whether this will be detrimental remains to be seen, as it will give the Dons time to play their new kids in competitive situations.
Why you should tune in:
I won’t rattle off a whole heap of reasons because put simply, the NAB Cup’s relevance divides supporters across the nation. Yet there will be a host of untried players chomping at the bit to prove their worth in front of a crowd, and of course the pre-season always provides that opportunity.
As mentioned earlier, it will also be interesting to see how the Eagles cope minus LeCras. Quentin Lynch, Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling will be the main three big targets inside 50 but none of them can be classified as a medium-sized forward like LeCras is, nor do they have the pace at ground level to snag opportunistic goals. Josh Hill will be given a run for his money this weekend and after his inconsistency at the Dogs, his performance could be anything from impressive to downright terrible.
Fremantle will compete in its first competitive match with Ross Lyon at the helm, and intrigue awaits as to whether Lyon will transport his stop-start game style over to Perth. Fans will be given a first look as to how Lyon gels with his new troops and if there are any noticeable changes in the way the Dockers operate on the field.
If you ask any Essendon supporters, they’re bound for finals again this year and with the kids having an extra year of experience behind them, perhaps even a chance for the top four. While we won’t be seeing Heppell on Sunday, many of his cohorts will be in attendance as well as a group of Dons rookies, which include highly touted midfielder Elliot Kavanagh and the recently re-drafted son of a gun Anthony Long. Don’t read too much into the results, but allow yourself to be entertained by the skill on offer.
All three teams are fairly evenly matched and it would be naïve to make big calls so early in the year. My guess is that, like Friday night, all teams will come away with one win.
As with all NAB Cup pool games, Fox Footy has exclusive TV coverage. The telecast for the West Coast–Essendon game begins at 7:30pm EST, with Essendon–Fremantle at 8:50pm and the mini-derby between West Coast and Fremantle at 9:55pm.
1. Hayden Ballantyne, 3. Zac Dawson, 4. Jayden Pitt, 5. Garrick Ibbotson, 6. Greg Broughton, 7. Nathan Fyfe, 8. Nick Suban, 9. Adam McPhee, 10. Nick Lower, 11. Tom Sheridan, 13. Tendai Mzungu, 15. Ryan Crowley, 17. Hayden Crozier, 22. Jack Anthony, 23. Chris Mayne, 25. Josh Mellington, 27. Lachie Neale, 28. Peter Faulks, 29. Matthew Pavlich, 30. Zachary Clarke, 31. Aaron Sandilands, 32. Stephen Hill, 34. Lee Spurr, 35. Haiden Schloithe, 37. Michael Johnson, 39. Sam Menegola, 40.Matt De Boer, 41 Paul Duffield, 46. Clancee Pearce, 47. Jay Van Berlo
2. Mark LeCras, 3. Andrew Gaff, 5. Brad Sheppard, 6. Mark Nicoski, 7. Chris Masten, 11. Matt Priddis, 13. Luke Shuey, 14. Koby Stevens, 15. Tom Swift, 16. Eric Mackenzie, 17. Josh Kennedy, 18. Bradd Dalziell, 19. Ryan Neates, 20. Dean Cox, 21. Quinten Lynch, 22. Michael Mascoulis, 23. Darren Glass, 25. Shannon Hurn, 26. Sam Butler, 27. Jack Darling, 28. Ashley Smith, 29. Scott Lycett, 30. Blayne Wilson, 33. Josh Hill, 34. Jacob Brennan, 35. Patrick McGinnity, 36. Fraser McInnes, 37, Adam Selwood, 40. Anton Hamp, 42. Jeremy McGovern, 43. Ashton Hams, 44. Gerrick Weedon, 45. Callum Papertalk, 46. Simon Tunbridge, 47. Lewis Stevenson
2. Ricky Dyson, 6. Angus Monfries, 7. Leroy Jetta, 10. Mark McVeigh, 11. David Zaharakis, 12. Stewart Crameri, 13. Anthony Long, 14.Sam Lonergan, 15. Courtenay Dempsey, 16. Tayte Pears, 17. Jake Melksham, 19. David Hille, 20. Henry Slattery, 22. Jake Carlisle, 23. David Myers, 26. Cale Hooker, 27. Luke Davis, 28. Elliott Kavanagh, 29. Alwyn Davey, 30. Patrick Ryder, 32. Travis Colyer, 33. Jackson Merrett, 34. Kyle Hardingham, 35. Nick O’Brien, 36. Lauchlan Dalgleish, 37. Kyle Reimers, 38. Michael Ross, 40. Ben Howlett, 41. Brendan Lee, 43. Michael Hibberd, 46. Mark Baguley, 47. Cory Dell’Olio