Latest van Berlo makes his mark
Falcons Jay van Berlo, left, and brother Mitchell share a joke before training this week. Pic: Ben Crabtree/WA News

It has been a while coming, but Mitchell van Berlo is stepping out of the shadow of his two older brothers.

The 20-year-old took 49 matches in the reserves, spread across three seasons, to finally crack a league debut with West Perth a fortnight ago.

Now with that milestone under his belt, the capable defender is looking to entrench himself in the Falcons line-up during the final month of the home-and-away season with a little guidance from his football-driven family.

Mitchell is the third member of the van Berlo clan to make it at least as far as WAFL league ranks.

Jay, 25, is a best-and-fairest winner, premiership player and co-captain at West Perth, having also managed 32 AFL matches in four seasons on Fremantle's list.

But those achievements pale in comparison to their 28-year-old brother Nathan, who has captained Adelaide for the past four seasons.

The oldest van Berlo has notched 182 AFL matches despite being sidelined for all of this season with an Achilles injury.

It took a frank conversation with both AFL-experienced siblings to motivate Mitchell to the point where he is now being rewarded with senior game time.

West Perth coach Bill Monaghan said the team's new addition had deserved the promotion on the back of 18 months of solid football.

"Having Jay back full time with us and training wise, he's really had a positive effect on Mitch," Monaghan said.

"Mitch was a young kid, graduated from colts and was doing a fair bit right in terms of preparation and extra weights and all that stuff, but I think he sat down with both his brothers and they said 'well you're either going to give it everything or you'll just play reserves footy'.

"He's really lifted his output both on and off the field and he's played some really consistent footy.

"He's been a little unlucky and even this year when things clearly aren't going well for us, it's been a tough back six to break into.

"He's been really patient, playing some really good footy. I think in his three Foxtel Cup games and on debut in what were pretty ordinary conditions he's holding his own and we see that he'll continue to develop."

Mitchell has strung together two league matches.

He played his role in West Perth's dominant win over Swan Districts at HBF Arena last Saturday and is expected to hold his spot at home against fourth-placed East Fremantle tomorrow.

The Sharks will name Bradd Dalziell, but the former Eagle remains in serious doubt due to a right knee complaint.

Dalziell sat out the second half of last Saturday's loss to South Fremantle after twisting the joint.

Tim Bristow will be available after recovering from a rolled ankle, while Jamie McNamara will return after missing four weeks with his own knee injury.

The West Australian

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