Sheppard s chance to stake claim
Sheppard's chance to stake claim

Brad Sheppard has the chance to restart his stuttering AFL career after winning selection in West Coast's team to play Melbourne at the MCG tomorrow.

Sheppard was given the nod ahead of teenager Brant Colledge to face the Demons. Still only 22, Sheppard has managed 45 games since his debut in 2010, but has never played more than 14 in a season and he achieved that number in his debut year, 2010, after being taken at pick seven in the 2009 national draft.

He played 13 matches last season and maintained a spot in the senior team towards the end of the year as the Eagles limped to round 22.

A strong performance for East Perth against Peel in round one of the WAFL and coach Adam Simpson's reluctance to play Dom Sheed as a substitute two weeks in a row earned Sheppard his recall.

Sheed played only the final quarter of last Sunday's match against the Western Bulldogs and gathered just three disposals in his AFL debut.

"If Dom played again this week he was probably going to be the sub again," Simpson said.

"We wanted to give him four quarters at WAFL level and give him a good run at it."

Sheppard's inclusion for Sheed was the one change the Eagles made to the team that outclassed the Bulldogs.

They will start warm favourites against the Demons, beaten by St Kilda last Saturday night.

But Simpson stressed that Melbourne would not be under- estimated, even though he had to smile at their coach Paul Roos' suggestions that he would like this game played without a scoreboard and that the Eagles might suffer from playing in hot conditions last weekend.

"That is Roosy's thoughts," he said. "I am pretty keen to have a scoreboard. We need to find out if we are going to win or not. One thing we are used to, though I am not quite used to, is the heat.

"The hotter the better for us."

Simpson said the Eagles would continue playing three ruckmen, with Nic Naitanui, Dean Cox and Callum Sinclair in the team for tomorrow, as long as the big men applied enough pressure to make it an advantage.

"Their biggest asset now is their pressure when the ball hits the deck," Simpson said.

"If they can do that and we can get some advantage out of the height, that is a bonus. If they don't do that we have got to look at it."

Melbourne midfielder Dom Tyson said the Demons would need a variety of tactics to compete with West Coast's ruck trio.

He said the Demons could focus on roving West Coast's taps, but they also had to find a way to nullify the hit-outs.

"They looked pretty slick against the Dogs," Tyson said.

"They've got some great bigs and it'll be important for us to feed off them a bit."

The West Australian

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