AFL grand final 2018: Wild about West Perth boys at West Coast Eagles

West Coast Eagles midfielder Mark Hutchings celebrates a goal during the AFL preliminary final win over Melbourne. Picture: Paul Kane
West Coast Eagles midfielder Mark Hutchings celebrates a goal during the AFL preliminary final win over Melbourne. Picture: Paul Kane

THEY make up a third of the West Coast Eagles forward line.

And fans of the AFL juggernaut are hoping West Perth products Mark LeCras and Jack Darling can fire at the MCG this Saturday.

They will be joined on the day by other former Falcons in midfield tagger Mark Hutchings, assistant coach Nathan van Berlo, development manager and 1995 premiership player Gavin Bell and possible emergency Oscar Allen.

West Perth coach Bill Monaghan said he wished them all well.

“They’ve played a really big part in getting West Coast to a grand final,” he said.

“And it’s going to be a ripper game against probably a surprise grand finalist in Collingwood.

“Hopefully they can lift the holy grail… and think that West Perth played some part in getting them to where they are.”

Monaghan said he had coached Darling as a 17-year-old before the Eagles drafted him.

“He’s always been a prodigious talent,” he said.

“I think whilst he’s been a very good footballer in the AFL system, this year he’s taken his game to a new level.

“Those people who know Jack, it’s not surprising. He was full of confidence and belief in himself and he’s turned into a fantastic AFL footballer.”

Monaghan said Hutchings helped the Falcons win the 2013 premiership after he had been delisted by St Kilda.

“He came to us from St Kilda looking for midfield opportunities.

“He played a really big part in our 2013 premiership and that probably helped him secure a spot on an AFL list. That’s a really good story.

“He’s a ripping young fellow and deserves everything he’s got.”

Monaghan coached LeCras’ brother Brent but said he had not had the pleasure of coaching Mark.

“The LeCras family, through Brent and Mark, have great success around the West Perth Football Club,” he said.

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Monaghan said he had got to know former Adelaide captain van Berlo.

“We went to a coaching conference in Adelaide a few years back and he got us into a couple of Crows sessions to look at,” he said.

“He was around a fair bit during the (WAFL) finals series.

“He’s really supportive of his brothers (Falcons Jay, who played in the WAFL grand final, and Mitch).

“It’s another West Perth link to the Eagles.

“His football mind and his leadership skills are outstanding and he’s a ripper fellow and hopefully he’ll get some success in coaching after a wonderful playing career.”

West Coast Eagles assistant coach Nathan van Berlo talks to Mark LeCras in the foreground as coach Adam Simpson prepares to address players at quarter-time of the preliminary final against Melbourne. Picture: Daniel Carson