Chris Masten is poised to join the likes of Daniel Kerr and Matt Priddis in West Coast's elite midfield group this season, according to club legend and AFL Hall of Famer Dean Kemp.
Masten had a breakout 2012, playing every game and finishing seventh in the best and fairest.
The 23-year-old led the club's inside-50 count and finished top five in tackles, kicks, handballs and loose-ball gets.
He also booted 20 goals for the season, better than any other midfielder in the side.
"I just hope that he can take it to the next level and be rubbing shoulders with Daniel Kerr and Matt Priddis and Luke Shuey and these sort of guys and be really pushing hard for a good spot in the middle of the ground," Kemp said.
"He's a good runner, a bit like (Andrew) Gaff I suppose, they're good carriers of the ball and they're the types of players you also want playing on the wings.
"He's been training the house down so I think he's going to go well."
The 243-game, dual premiership hero said with Dean Cox, Darren Glass and Kerr nearing the end of their careers, it was time for the next generation to step up and prevent the club from "bottoming out".
Masten said he couldn't afford not to improve each season. "You have got to strive to better yourself every year otherwise you will sort of end up in a heap," he said.
"Myself and the team need to go to another level and I think we can do that."
Masten was one of West Coast's best in their NAB Cup loss to Collingwood at Patersons Stadium on Sunday with 25 disposals, six inside 50s and four clearances.
He said his form still felt a little scratchy but his body was in good shape."Fitness is something that comes naturally for me so I tried to take it to a new level this year," he said."Our training has been really intense so when we go out there games aren't as hard as it probably should be this time of year."Masten said they were not too concerned about Sunday's loss."We couldn't really get the ball out of their forward line, which is what we try to do to teams, and they probably did to us, which was a pretty good test for us," he said."It is only NAB Cup and we can work on that at training and hopefully we can get better in the next couple of weeks before round one."The coaches will have a few areas that we weren't so good in but we are not too worried about the scoreboard just yet. We will save that for round one."
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