West Coast s quiet achiever
West Coast's quiet achiever

There are times when Quinten Lynch appears more tortured by football than titillated.

His contorted facial expression of pain when he misses a goal seems to tell in equal measures how much the game means to the veteran West Coast forward and how much it taunts his feeling of belonging.

But this is true of the gentle giant from Grass Patch, a farming area north of Esperance. He remains an unsung hero of his club.

Lynch booted 65 goals in West Coast's premiership year of 2006 as Chris Judd, Ben Cousins, Dean Cox and schoolyard mate Daniel Kerr took the bulk of the plaudits.

Last year, as the Eagles surged from the foot of the ladder into the top four, his vital role in attack and in the team's vaunted forward press went largely unnoticed as Cox, Kerr, captain Darren Glass and Andrew Embley were hailed as the senior stars of the revival.

But now, with key forward Josh Kennedy suffering an ankle injury, the importance of the player known as The Big Q-Stick will be brought into stronger focus.

After a typically sound return of 18 possessions and two goals in last Sunday's grinding win over Richmond, the 29-year-old's demeanour seemed lighter than ever as he revealed his bold hopes to again feel the delights of flag success.

That seemed unlikely in 2010 when he was forced back into the WAFL to rediscover his forward craft while several players more junior enjoyed a rise into senior ranks. But Lynch said that period of adversity had only sharpened his desire to remain a meaningful part of the club.

"Footy is fun and I'm really enjoying it at the moment," Lynch said.

"It's obviously a really good feeling to be 5-0 and I'm just looking forward to the challenges every week, building on this season and seeing what happens at the end of it. When you get to my age, you never know what's around the corner so you just have to train hard, put your best foot forward and try to play some good footy.

"I've been around a little while now, but I still learn every day and I still make a lot of mistakes. You go back on your tapes and try and dust off as many mistakes as you can. But I've still got the passion for the game and my body is good.

"Everyone knows to win a grand final is the hardest thing in footy and it takes a lot of effort and dedication. But with this group we've got now, we've really got the opportunity to push for another one and I'm just looking forward to helping the young blokes in the team get stronger and wiser and better.

"All you do is play footy to try and win grand finals and when you think you're a chance, you've got to do everything possible to help get the team in a position to have a crack at one. I'm looking forward to that."

On June 15, it will be a decade to the day since Lynch made a two-goal debut as a 19-year-old in a memorable one-point win over Carlton at Princes Park.

With one more goal, he will equal Chris Lewis' mark of 259 majors for West Coast. Only Peter Sumich (519) and Phil Matera (389) have kicked more for the Eagles.

Lynch will play his 194th game against North Melbourne tomorrow. Only 15 Eagles have played more for the club and by the end of this year, he may well have passed gold and blue luminaries such as current coach John Worsfold (209) and the late Chris Mainwaring (201).

West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett said after some early mistakes in his career, such as his infamous decision to run from police in 2004 rather than face a random breath test, Lynch had become a celebrated life member of the club.

Nisbett praised the West Perth recruit's record of never missing a game through injury.

"Lynchy is a warhorse and his durability is unbelievable," Nisbett said. "We drafted him as a rookie in 2002 when not too many people gave him a chance.

"But we thought the way he played his junior footy, he was worth a punt.

"He's since worked his way to becoming an extremely valuable player, not only in our premiership year, but ongoing. Now he's heading towards 200 games of league footy off the rookie list.

"He's settled down, he's got a child and another one on the way - all of those things maketh the man and that's exactly what he has become.

"He's a wonderful club person and probably our most durable player.

"He would be the first one to tell you that he's never had the ability of some players, but he's got that tremendous drive and will to win."

Nisbett said Lynch was almost certain to be offered a new one-year contract later this year.

While most critics have claimed this week that Kennedy's loss will force a major restructure of West Coast's attack, Lynch rejected that train of thought.

"Everyone knows our structure and it just means someone else will have to slot into that role," he said.

He's a wonderful club person and probably our most durable player." *Trevor Nisbett * on Quinten Lynch

The West Australian

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