Looking to break a hoodoo

Traditional rivals WA and Victoria will clash at Henry Street Oval, Northam, today.
Traditional rivals WA and Victoria will clash at Henry Street Oval, Northam, today.

The Black Swans have not tasted success on home soil for more than two decades, when a team coached by Barry Cable beat the Big V by more than 10 goals in a State of Origin game at the WACA ground.

Webb said WA’s ability to play as a team held the key to today’s contest.

‘I think you can get caught out trying to pick the best 22 for a State match, instead of the best team,’ Webb said.

‘We’ll be looking at putting together the best combination ” not necessarily a team stacked with great onballers.

‘I also believe the WAFL is a better competition now and you can gauge that by the amount of mature-age players being drafted from here.’

Injuries and omissions have made Webb’s task a little easier.

He and his selection team have filled the gaps with players capable of fitting into the game plan.

The Black Swans’ strategy is hardly a secret. They want to run the Victorians off their legs on the Northam ground.

The WA team is short of interstate experience and will rely on big man and State captain Paul Johnson to carry a heavy load as the Black Swans’ sole recognised ruckman.

The East Perth ruckman was the Simpson Medallist in the WAFL’s clash with the SANFL last year.

The hosts have good goal-kicking options to cover the late withdrawal of East Perth’s Josh Smith because of injury.

Claremont’s Ian Richardson is one of the few old-hands at interstate football and will partner Tim Geappen, Marlon Motlop, Ashton Hamp and Johnson in providing WA with scoring opportunities.

Adam Cockie (Subiaco) and Wayde Skipper (West Perth) started their senior football careers on the West Coast before the search for the AFL dream took them east.

The 2013 VFL squad is vastly different from the one that defeated Tasmania by 108 points last year.

Included in the VFL’s team that eclipsed the Tasmanian State League were Sam Dwyer (Collingwood), Brett Goodes (Western Bulldogs), Leigh Osborne (Gold Coast Suns), Kyle Martin (Collingwood), Kyle Hartigan (Adelaide) and Dean Towers (Sydney) ” all of whom were selected by clubs at the AFL draft late last year.

This year’s VFL State squad of 22 features a blend of youth and experience but only four members of last year’s successful team ” Chris Cain, Ben Ross, Sam Pleming and Myles Sewell.

‘It has opened the door for a great opportunity for a number of new players to take to the State stage and I think that can only be exciting,’ said Port Melbourne 2011 premiership coach Gary Ayres, who has led his club to consecutive VFL grand finals, as well as leading Victoria to victory in last year’s State game.

‘This could be the biggest stage that an individual can play on ” we would hope that some guys get drafted in the AFL, as we have already seen ” but if some players are not drafted, this is as big a game as they are ever going to play.’

The average age of the VFL squad is just 24 and includes two current VFL captains (Marcus Marigliani ” Sandringham and Evan Panozza ” Casey Scorpions).

There are also seven former AFL listed players ” Stephen Clifton, Ben Warren, Ben Ross, Marigliani, Adam Cockie, Sam Pleming and Scott Simpson.

‘There are some good young kids pushing through in the VFL,’ Ayres said.