Former Hawthorn midfield star Sam Mitchell says he’s been surprised at the number of talented youngsters in the West Coast side.
The Brownlow medallist said that he was initially impressed by a lot of aspects of the Eagles outfit after arriving in WA three months ago.
But it was the upside of some of the young brigade that has him most excited.
Former Hawthorn champ Sam Mitchell played his first game in West Coast colours and had an immediate impact in their AFL preseason win over Fremantle.
“There are lots of things that are different to what I thought,” he said.
“Some of the talent of some of the younger guys is a bit more exciting than I probably thought.
“A guy like Dom Sheed is 21 years old and is already built like a man. There is so much upside.
“Jack Redden and playing with a guy like Lewis Jetta; these are exciting players that I haven’t seen much of on the AFL footy field – there is a lot of upside.”
Mitchell debuted with the Eagles in a JLT Community Series clash against Fremantle at Geraldton on Saturday and picked up a game-high 28 possessions.
ALthough he is about to enter his 16th season at the top level, Mitchell said it was a lot of fun playing with a whole new group.
“It was good fun; a good way to start,” he said.
“I got a couple of early touches and we kicked a couple of early goals. It took the pressure off and then just went and played after that.
“Some of the time it felt like we had great chemistry; sometimes it felt like we were on complete different pages – plenty of missed handballs. I was going left and they were handballing right.
“So there were some strange things – but it’s something to build from.”
The Eagles only have one official chance to build on that before round one, with a home clash against Melbourne on March 9.
And for that, Simpson said he would need to go in as close to full strength as they could. Due to that fixturing, the Eagles will also need to schedule some intraclub hit-outs.
“We’ve probably copped the rough end of stick with the pre-season scheduling – one game in 29 days and a couple of travel games in there as well,” Simpson said.
Sam Mitchell has made an immediate impact in his first outing in West Coast colours, playing a leading hand in his new side’s AFL pre-season 55-point thumping of Fremantle.
Mitchell made his presence felt from the opening bounce of the Eagles’ 16.11 (107) to 8.4 (52) victory, finishing with a game-high 28 possessions.
He already appears to have some chemistry with Matt Priddis (27 touches), Luke Shuey (26) and Andrew Gaff (24) with the quartet starring at Wonthella Oval in Geraldton on Saturday.
The former Hawthorn premiership star and Brownlow medallist had the first disposal and the first clearance of the game and led all comers with 10 touches in the opening term. By halftime he had racked up 16 possessions as the Eagles raced to a 45-point lead.
Drew Petrie also debuted for the Eagles, collecting 11 touches and sharing ruck duties with Nathan Vardy.
West Coast continually chipped the ball to short lead-up targets as the disposal count finished a lop-sided 414 to 214 in favour of the Eagles.
They went forward 25 times to the Dockers’ 11 in the first half and led 10.5 to 3.2 at the main break.
Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy had three of his four goals by then, making life difficult for prized Fremantle recruit and Western Bulldogs premiership defender Joel Hamling.
Hamling wasn’t the only one wearing Dockers colours for the first time to have a tough day – Cam McCarthy and Shane Kersten had seven possessions apiece, while Bradley Hill worked his way into the game and kicked two goals.
Hayden Ballantyne also booted two while Michael Walters looked the most dangerous of the Dockers forwards but wasted his opportunities.
It didn’t help Fremantle that their best ball winner, Lachie Neale, wasn’t playing.
New captain Nat Fyfe had the biggest impact for the Dockers with 11 touches in the first half and 22 for the game.