Buddy big task for Eagles back
Buddy big task for Eagles back

Mitch Brown will get a chance to prove just how far his game has improved when the key West Coast defender sizes up against Lance Franklin in tomorrow night's NAB Challenge clash in Blacktown.

The 25-year-old is expected to get first crack at Sydney's prized recruit after the Eagles headed east with a far less experienced line-up to the one that belted Fremantle by 84 points last week.

Fellow defenders Darren Glass and Eric Mackenzie have both been rested. Matt Priddis, Dean Cox, Mark LeCras and Josh Kennedy have also been left out of the 29-man squad.

Six players yet to earn their AFL debut - Dom Sheed, Jeremy McGovern, Brandt Colledge, Fraser McInnes, Dylan Main and Will Maginness - have been selected, although the squad will be cut by three players tomorrow.

Sydney will field 12 premiership players for the hit-out at Blacktown International Sports-park, with Lewis Jetta, Mike Pyke and Lewis Roberts-Thomson joining Franklin in their first matches for 2013.

West Coast have recalled midfielder Andrew Gaff and defender Will Schofield.

Schofield is unlikely to be sent to Franklin, particularly given he is coming off a hamstring strain.

That will almost certainly leave the job of restricting the AFL's most dangerous forward to Brown.

The versatile Eagle played 19 matches in 2013 in his best run in West Coast's side for four seasons, but will have less than fond memories about his brutal reintroduction to AFL ranks in round two when Franklin booted five goals in their direct match-up.

East Fremantle's Steve Malaxos has coached Brown frequently over the past three seasons and said the defender had become a far more mature player who would play consistent football under new coach Adam Simpson.

"He had a pretty good year last year," Malaxos said.

"In 2012, West Coast were reticent to play him, Mackenzie and Glass in the same team, but a noticeable selection change occurred last year and that helped Brown. It had a clear effect on him."

Tomorrow's match also looms as important for McGovern.

He is entering a make-or-break fourth season on the Eagles list.

He will be desperate to impress after returning to training overweight at the start of pre-season and being initially banished from the main squad.

The West Australian

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