Former champion full-forward Austin Robertson has urged West Coast to employ a specialist goal-kicking coach to help improve the side’s woeful conversion rate.
Robertson, who is WA’s greatest goal kicker with a WAFL record 1211 for Subiaco amid a career tally of 1315, said kicking for goal was the critical difference in last Sunday’s western derby.
Fremantle won booting 11.7 (73) to West Coast’s 7.12 (54), but the Eagles cost themselves dearly by producing a wasteful seven consecutive behinds in the second term. West Coast have kicked 81.85 this season with only Collingwood, who have scored 83.101, having a greater discrepancy between goals and behinds.
“My advice to (coach Adam Simpson) is to go out and immediately employ a specialist goal-kicking coach,” Robertson said in his weekly Post column.
“Many of the Eagles players slice the ball when having a shot on goal.
“You just have to wonder if they have ever been told to run straight and to follow through straight by pointing your toe to where you want the ball to go.”
That is a version of the simple mantra Robertson used during his playing days that saw him appear in 279 senior matches for Subiaco, South Melbourne and WA.
He believed successful goal kicking depended on the player: “Running straight, dropping the ball straight, kicking straight and following through straight.”
Robertson said he was not surprised at the derby result after watching West Coast train in the lead-up to the match.
“I have always believed that players play as they train,” Robertson said.
“The Eagles had what could only be described as an ordinary session.
“It was languid, half-paced, measured and, dare I say it, slack.”
And Robertson said goal-kicking practice was one of the worst elements of the session he observed.
“The shots for goal were sprayed all over the place like a first-up golfer on a practice fairway,” he said.
“In the second quarter, the Eagles kicked 1.8 and with inaccuracy like that you can’t expect to go on and win matches against quality opposition.”
Robertson said West Coast kicked best when former Perth spearhead Murray Couper was used as an expert coach last decade.
Conversely, the players “looked like a mob of Brown’s cows” during a session under former assistant Peter Sumich, the Eagles’ goals record-holder.
“Murray ... did it brilliantly,” Robertson said.
“He had long pieces of rope set up like tramlines to make sure his players were running in a straight line towards the goal.
“Like fishing, sex and politics, kicking for goals is easy in theory.
“It’s just practice and using the right technique for you that has become routine, and a bit of effort from the grey matter.”