AFL: young guns crucial to West Coast’s early success, says Kennedy

Josh Kennedy celebrates with teammates after  West Coast's win over Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium on Saturday. Picture: Getty Images
Josh Kennedy celebrates with teammates after West Coast's win over Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium on Saturday. Picture: Getty Images

ONE of the great things about footy is that you get to celebrate important moments with your teammates.

A couple of weeks ago it was the milestones of some long time mates Mark LeCras (200 games) and Nic Naitanui (150 games), but it’s just as much fun seeing some of the young guys come through.

I have played the last three games with Jake Waterman and Willie Rioli and the last couple with Jack Petruccelle. Obviously as you spend time with these guys around the club you get to know them a bit, but getting to understand them on-field can be a little different.

With some high calibre players – led by Matt Priddis, Sam Mitchell and Drew Petrie – retiring at the end of last year there was going to be opportunities for some of the kids in our squad.

With Liam Ryan and Dan Venables also debuting in the first game, we have had five players come into the team to experience AFL footy for the first time, fulfilling their childhood dream.

Those guys have changed the dynamic and the personality of the team and it has been fun seeing the transition.

Playing closely with Jake, Willie and Jack in the forward half it has been really enjoyable seeing what they bring to the team. Their enthusiasm is catching and they are both creating opportunities and hitting the scoreboard.

From a team perspective that’s important because a wide spread of goal-kickers makes us more potent and makes it difficult for opposition defenders to lock down on all of our scoring options.

Having those young guys coming into the team has been an important part of the strong start we have made to the season.

Obviously having blokes like Nic and Scott Lycett back playing – when they played one game between them last year – has been a major factor, but the raw enthusiasm of the young guys has been terrific.

There is a great bond in the team, strong unity and we will be looking to build on the platform we have laid in the first seven weeks.

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