The West

Shuey s plan to win the hard ball
Shuey's plan to win the hard ball

West Coast midfield star Luke Shuey is keen to win more contested ball to continue his rise and beat the taggers in 2013.

The 22-year-old, who has become one of the Eagles' most important players over the past two seasons, said he was being managed through the NAB Cup after a huge summer in which he barely missed a training session.

"I have had the biggest pre- season I have had since I have been at the club," Shuey said.

"Here and there you are a bit sore and you get pulled out of a few drills, but it was good to get 93 per cent under my belt because I think in previous years I haven't even hit 85 per cent."

Shuey, who was the club's second-highest Brownlow Medal vote getter last season but failed to finish in the top 10 in the best and fairest, said he hoped to improve his ability to win the hard ball.

"To win finals you have got to be able to win contested footy," he said. "I want to be able to play a big part in helping this team be successful so I am looking to win a lot more contested footy. I think as a young group we are going to improve that naturally."

Last year's premiers Sydney won more contested ball than any other team. West Coast were ranked 11th in the league for contested possessions, with Shuey's midfield teammates Matt Priddis and Daniel Kerr leading the club.

Kerr has been the regular target of opposition taggers, but Shuey received closer attention last season and is prepared for more.

"You never really stand alone when you are copping a tag and it makes winning easy balls not so easy," he said.

"Hopefully Kerry can get on the park for us and we can share that burden around, but if not, it is something I am going to have to work through. Hopefully I can learn to deal with the tag as my career goes on."

Shuey started his 2013 campaign against Geelong in game one of the Eagles' opening NAB Cup fixture at Patersons Stadium last Saturday night. He had seven disposals and two clearances in the two-point loss before sitting out the game against Fremantle.

Shuey said it was a different experience roving to young ruckman Scott Lycett and rookie Callum Sinclair in the absence of All-Australians Nic Naitanui and Dean Cox.

"I think Scotty is going to play a lot of footy for the club," he said. "He's a good size and loves providing a contest so I can see us roving to him a lot in the future."

West Coast will have this weekend off before playing Collingwood at Patersons Stadium on March 3.

"I think we have got Alice Springs and then within another week or two we are in to round one, so there is not much time," Shuey said.

"Hopefully I will play a few more games and get as match fit as I can."

Sam Butler, Josh Kennedy, Beau Waters, Cox and Matt Rosa are all a chance to play against Collingwood, after missing the NAB Cup opener.

Sharrod Wellingham will not play against his old side after injuring an ankle on a trampoline but told Seven News last night he was aiming to be fit for the round-one derby on March 23. Kerr and Naitanui are likely to miss again.

  • ·MORE FOOTBALL *P88-89

"I have had the biggest pre-season I have had since I have been at the club.""West Coast midfielder *Luke Shuey *

The West Australian

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