DANIEL Venables may be the least heralded member of West Coast’s grand final 22 but the rookie forward’s pressure-first style is built for September.
One of eight Eagles debutants blooded this season, Venables will fill an unassuming but important role in Saturday’s AFL premiership decider against Collingwood.
Twin towers Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling will undoubtedly be the focal point of West Coast’s attack.
Excitement machines Liam Ryan and Willie Rioli provide the highlights.
And veteran Mark LeCras, along with the in-form Jamie Cripps, bring leadership, nous and an ability to pinch-hit in the midfield.
Venables is yet to become a prolific accumulator or goalkicker, having booted nine majors from 14 games.
But the youngest player in the Eagles’ 22 brings other qualities to the table.
The 19-year-old has pace to burn and doesn’t shy away from a contest, laying seven tackles during the qualifying final win over Collingwood and winning 12 contested possessions in last week’s preliminary-final demolition of Melbourne.
West Coast saw Venables as an onballer when they took him with their top draft pick in 2016 but after an injury-ruined 2017, coach Adam Simpson has recast him as a pressure forward.
“Simmo just wants me to play natural football and to keep it simple,” Venables said at Friday’s grand-final parade.
“Just build from the pressure stuff and all the tackles and the rest will come from there.”
The 187cm Venables’ ability to win the ball at ground level has been particularly important for a side that went into the finals ranked 18th for ground-ball differential.
West Coast’s forward pressure has been much improved on the whole this season with the gifted Rioli and Ryan both also bringing pace and hard tackling.
“They just love playing football,” Venables said of his fellow first-year teammates.
“They’re just doing what they’ve been doing since they were kids. They’re awesome to play with.
“I haven’t really been too surprised with what they’ve been able to do.”