Royals to unleash seven debutants

Friday, July 24, 2020 - 5:10 PM

Jeremy Barnard has named seven club debutants for East Perth’s opening clash with Perth at Mineral Resources Park on Saturday.

The Royals had a bye in round one but will blood a mixture of new faces and established talent against the Demons in round two of the 2020 WAFL Season.

Off-season recruits Angus Schumacher, Aidan Lynch, Corey Watts and Tom Hooper will all pull on the East Perth guernsey for the first time, while Sebit Kuek, Jordan Hayden and Tom Amos have all earned a league call up.

“It was a real focus for the club in the off-season to add some depth and bring in some recruits,” Football Operations Manager Warren Parker told eastperthfc.com.au.

“To see the natural development of our playing list, along with the recruitment of some players, is exciting for the club.

“It’s a bonus that a number of our Colts and Reserves players have had strong pre-seasons and put their hand up for selection. It’s really exciting for those guys to get a chance.”

Midfielder Aidan Lynch played 70 League games for the Falcons and was awarded the Prendergast Medal in 2014 as the best and fairest player in the WAFL Reserves competition. Victorian native and midfielder Schumacher signed with East Perth last December following time on Carlton’s list.

Watts, a key defender, joined the Royals via Sandringham in the TAC Cup. In 2018 he claimed the Best and Fairest at the Dragons where he was coached by Jeremy Barnard as a bottom-aged player.

Hooper, the son of former East Perth and Geelong ruckman Stephen Hooper, arrived at East Perth via North Beach Football Club and spent time at Subiaco Football Club as a junior.

Kuek, originally from Ellenbrook Junior Football Club, finished equal runner up in the Colts’ Hec Strempel Award in 2019 and featured in East Perth’s two pre-season hit outs against Subiaco and South Fremantle.

Sweeping defender and Busselton product Jordan Hayden will get his first senior opportunity after spending time in the Reserves last season, while ruckman Tom Amos will make his league debut after arriving at East Perth in 2016.

“Pressure on positions and competition for spots is only healthy for a list,” said Parker.

“We feel it’s going to give us a bit of a competitive edge and guys are going to be really pushing and putting their best foot forward for selection.

“We’re going to be really confident with the guys we’ve got each week that they’ve done as much as they can to get themselves into league football form.”

Perth opened its 2020 campaign with a 10-point win over Peel Thunder at David Grays Arena last weekend.

“We’re expecting a really competitive showing from Perth on their home deck.

"We’re going to have to be right on our game. Peel tested them but they’ve got some quality players and some good depth, we'll need to be switched on from the very first bounce.”

Patrick McGinnity will captain East Perth as sole skipper for the first time, following the retirement of Kyle Anderson in May.

“We got a bit of game time into Pat last Friday night in a Reserves practice game. He’s got to manage his body, but he’s fresh and ready to go.

“He’ll come in and play a really important role as skipper for us this weekend.”

Nick Robertson will have to wait another week to make his Royals debut after accepting a one match sanction for striking Haiden Schloithe in East Perth’s practice match against South Fremantle, while Jonathan Freeman is still a couple of weeks away with injury.

League bouncedown is at 3.05pm at Mineral Resources Park, with the match broadcast on the Seven Network from 3.00pm. East Perth fans can watch the Reserves match from 12.30pm and Colts at 5.35pm. The Rogers Cup Women's team will clash with Peel Thunder at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Sunday, bouncedown is at 11:15am.

Team Selection: League

Warren Parker gives an insight into East Perth's debutants:

Aidan Lynch

“Lynchy brings a wealth of experience. He’s played that hard, in-and-under, ball winning inside mid role at another club with that tackling pressure. For us, he brings a great deal of leadership, voice and a calm head to the way he plays his footy. He’s a really good character, his leadership has been outstanding for our group of developing leaders. He’s been really good in that way and I think his football is going to reflect that too once he’s getting a bit more comfortable with the game plan."

Angus Schumacher

“He’s a really balanced kid off-field, really mature and someone that is good to have around the group. I think from a performance perspective, he’s been one of our best, if not, our best performer over the pre-season. He’s slotted into WAFL football seamlessly, he’s a quality character and I think he’s only going to get better and better. He’s going to be one of those players in the WAFL that pops up this year and people take notice when he plays.”

Corey Watts

“He’s been really good, Corey. He had a few hiccups given that he went back to Victoria and the borders closed and then had a bit of an interruption getting back to WA. He had to do his two weeks isolation and join the group late. We had to hold him out of the first practice match, but he played against South Fremantle and we’ve just eased him in. To his credit, he hasn’t skipped a beat, he’s been really good with the group, he understands what Barney is trying to do and he’s a young developing kid, so he’s going to have his moments. I think we’ve got a kid that will play a lot of league footy for us in the future if he continues growing the way he has over the pre-season.”

Tom Hooper

“Tom came from North Beach Football Club last year after being with Subiaco as a junior and having some injuries. He’s a fantastic character, he’s played a lot of footy back but he’s swung forward to start off with. He’s still adjusting to the speed of WAFL footy after a little bit of time out, but his pre-season was building which put him part of the selection conversations.”

Sebit Kuek

“He’s a tall forward who’s a bit more athletic and mobile than he might be given credit for. He’d be around 197 centimetres, there’s only about 70 kilos of him, so he’s not a big, strapping man but he moves across the ground really well. He’s actually quite tenacious with his tackling pressure and pressure around the ball when it hits the ground. He’s got big, sticky hands so when the ball’s in the air and he flies at it, he at least creates a contest or clucks them, which is exactly what he’s there to do.”

Jordan Hayden

“Jordan's a sweeping defender – a Busselton boy who has come up for his first full time year at the club. He travelled up last year and got a few Reserves games in. He’s been really impressive over the pre-season games and just through sheer performance he’s got himself into the league squad.”

Tom Amos

“He’ll play as a second ruckman to Scott Jones and then play a little bit forward as well in that ruck/forward rotation. He’s a 23-year-old young man now. He’s played a good amount of Reserves football over the past few years and he’s one that will be setting himself up to play some consistent league football. He had a really good pre-season and he’s backed that up with his performance and competitiveness during the practice match games. We’re excited to see what he can do. We thought Tom’s competitiveness in the Subiaco game is what really set him apart. It gives us confidence that he’s going to go out there and be really competitive in the ruck and give us second and third efforts which is what we’re chasing.”