Eagles not kidding around
Eagles not kidding around

Fierce competition for places in West Coast's team for the start of the season means players will approach the NAB Cup at full intensity, according to premiership defender Sam Butler.

The Eagles have enjoyed one of their most productive pre-seasons, with only a small number of players still recovering from injury.

Butler said that was a far cry from when the team was at the foot of the ladder, as a large rehab group took its toll on the team.

Though Daniel Kerr, Andrew Embley, Nic Naitanui, Mitch Brown and Matt Rosa aren't expected to play against Essendon and Fremantle at Patersons Stadium on Sunday, Butler said the players who were available understood the importance of playing well.

"Every game we're playing to win. We're not out there to pussyfoot around," Butler said.

"We play the boys who have performed the best in pre-season, people who have earned their spot to play and prove themselves and have a chance to play in round one.

"Expect to see a lot of young guys playing, but expect those boys to be flat out and trying to win. A lot of players who didn't play many games last year have been standing out on the track.

"They'll be out there, they're feeling fit, they're feeling hungry and they want a spot for round one.

"Hopefully that competition will get us going."

Butler, 26, admitted the pressure was on West Coast to remain a top-four team after surging up the ladder from the club's first wooden spoon in 2010. He said winning five games by less than 10 points during the home-and-away season and having a small injury list for most of the year meant the Eagles needed luck to remain on their side.

"We finished top four and a lot of things went right for us, obviously with injuries, and we won a lot of tight games," he said.

"It's going to be a challenge to get better, but it's a challenge we're more than willing to take on."

The Eagles spent yesterday morning showing their support for club physiotherapist Chris Perkin at the inaugural SIDS and KIDS Sunshine Beach Fun Run at City Beach. Perkin organised the event in memory of his unborn son Jake and wife Cindy who died in 2009.

More than 1400 people ran or walked along the beach.

Perkin ran 3km with his children and said it had been an emotional day for a lot of people.

"You've got to feel happiness about what's here with you now. That's what we're thinking about now ... enjoying what's around us, but also remembering what we've lost," he said.

"Every game we're playing to win. We're not out there to pussyfoot around." " *Sam Butler *

The West Australian

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