New Eagles coach says he has bigger fish to fry

West Coast fans can expect to see more of Jack Darling in the midfield this season.

The 21-year-old started in the centre square in the Eagles 84-point drubbing of Fremantle at Arena Joondalup on Tuesday.

He spent much of the first term there, as West Coast opened up a 46-point lead. He had only four touches, but made his presence felt, with two tackles, two centre clearances and some solid blocking.

That's what coach Adam Simpson was looking for.

"I haven't had a chance to reflect on that. We had a rotation, he was part of it," Simpson said. "I think he has impact in there. He has a bigger body. Sometimes the question marks on our midfield is perhaps they're not quite big enough, so he adds to the strength and he has a go, doesn't he?"

Taking Darling from the Eagles attacking area didn't seem to hamper West Coast either.

The Eagles had 14 goal-scorers, including super goals from Shannon Hurn and Mitch Brown, who had run off from half-back.

The others were shared by half-forwards and midfielders, with Sharrod Wellingham, Chris Masten and Jamie Cripps each kicking three goals and Luke Shuey and Mark Le Cras two apiece.

While the Eagles dominated the inside-50 count 61-31, it wasn't a day for big men, with Darling, Callum Sinclair and Josh Kennedy contributing one goal apiece.

But Simpson wasn't getting too carried away.

"We take what we can. I'm pretty sure that wasn't AFL standard in terms of how the game was played," he said. "It was a good practice match, so we can feel good about ourselves because we had a win. But there's bigger fish to fry.

"We've probably been building up; we're in a different phase to Fremantle at the moment.

"We needed to play a stronger team because we needed to get the boys playing together. We were really pleased with our intent today that was the main thing."

West Coast will get that stronger team on February 27 when it travels to Blacktown to play the Sydney Swans. The Eagles will finish the pre-season campaign with a practice match against the Dockers at Patersons Stadium on March 6.

But it might not be a full-strength Eagles outfit that heads to Sydney to tackle the Swans.

"We'll look at opportunities to maybe rest a few guys for Sydney," Simpson said. "It's Blacktown, so it's a bit of a drive and flight.

"We can't play our boys every week. We need to progress them in the right way."

This story New Eagles coach says he has bigger fish to fry first appeared on Canberra Times.