Lynch and midfield mix building chemistry

Thursday, July 30, 2020 - 6:35 PM by Katie de Haer

The significance of the occasion wasn’t lost on East Perth recruit Aidan Lynch when he was presented with his playing jumper last Saturday by Royals legend Craig Wulff.

Lynch arrived at East Perth at the end of 2019, after nine seasons with West Perth.

"I was a little bit nervous because the only other times I had spoken to or seen Wulffy was when I was playing against him,” Lynch said.

Wulff’s career spanned 15 seasons and a record 286 games.

“People know what he was like out on the field for opposition players and the way he played for his teammates.

“It was a great honour, he was someone that I respected from afar. He was obviously a champion player for East Perth, for him to present the jumper ahead of my club debut was awesome.”

Wulff, a heart and soul player for the Royals, made two grand finals as captain, but a premiership was the missing piece in his distinguished career.

“To hear what the jumper means to him, what it meant to wear the jumper and to represent the club, I really appreciated that from him and I know it meant a lot to the other players as well.”

Lynch amassed 32 disposals, 10 inside 50s and a goal in Saturday’s 21-point loss to Perth. Working alongside the likes of Jackson Ramsay and Angus Schumacher in the middle, Lynch said he and his teammates were benefiting from the first hand service of ruck duo Scott Jones and Tom Amos, who amassed a combined 47 hitouts on the weekend.

While 23-year-old Amos continues to develop, playing his first league match against the Demons, Jones, who returned to East Perth after two years on Fremantle’s list was dominant, accumulating 38 hitouts, nine tackles and two goals.

“I’ve definitely found the benefits of playing with them – two dominant ruckmen,” Lynch said.

“Jonesy, especially, and Tom Amos, who will definitely be a dominant ruckman in the future.

“With Jonesy, having that connection with him and working with him over the pre-season has allowed me to get on the front foot and be more proactive at stoppages and around the ground.

“Being able to train with my teammates for a longer period (due to the COVID delay) has probably allowed me to get to know them a bit more than I may have in a normal pre-season. It’d normally be 4-5 months compared to the 6-8 that we’ve had. 

"Hopefully we can gel more throughout the year and be the dominant midfield in the competition.”

East Perth controlled most of the play after quarter time, but it was a slow start that ultimately cost the side in the end as Perth piled on six goals to one in the first term. 

“We felt after quarter time, and even parts during the first quarter, that we controlled the game. It just hurt that we didn’t take some chances in the first quarter.

“There were probably two or three chances where if we had of scored it would have been a two or three goal lead to them or even less potentially (rather than a five goal margin at the quarter time break).

“There were some chances that we let go, some easy goals that could have definitely closed the gap at quarter time and allowed us to play out the rest of the game like we did and potentially win it rather than chasing from five or six goals down.

“We discussed the importance of starting well at training this week. Especially the first 15-30 minutes of training, simulating that match day high energy and fast start that we know we need to expect early in a game.

“It was, of course, a negative result for us against Perth, but we definitely took some positives out of it and will have a positive mindset coming into East Fremantle this weekend.”

Contested football is a strength of Lynch’s game. With a new look midfield, aided by the return of Jones and the recruitment of Angus Schumacher and Nick Robertson, who is still to debut, the Royals won the clearances, inside 50s and tackling count against Perth.

“Ward Harris, the Football Manager at the time that got me over to East Perth, highlighted that East Perth were last in clearances and contested possession last year.

"If you win the contested possessions and win the clearances, you give yourself the best chance to control the ball. If I was able to help do that, hopefully over the season we can win more games because of it."

Despite the season delay, Lynch said he was now feeling at home at East Perth. 

“It was tough coming across, definitely, but I’ve felt that I’ve settled in well and only immersed myself more in the team and in the club. It’s kind of helped my relationship with the players and the team. It’s been fantastic.”

With his younger brother, Conal, playing for West Perth, Lynch said game day had posed challenges for his family.

“Being my first game for East Perth, they (my family) came to my game on the weekend. Having the bye in round 1, we were all able to go and watch my brother play for West Perth against Swans, which was good and probably the only time until we play them next week (in the Perth Derby) that the family will be able to watch both of us.

“I’m not sure what they’re going to do this weekend. West Perth are playing down at Peel so hopefully I can convince them to come watch us at Leederville. Having to spread allegiances to either West Perth or East Perth is tough. They pretend like they’re doing both but I guess whoever wins next week or whoever has had a win during the weekend they’ll prefer that brother or prefer that team,” he laughed.

Former West Perth league coach Bill Monaghan is in his second year at the helm of East Fremantle and 25-year-old Lynch said he was hoping to provide some insight to his teammates ahead of East Perth’s first home game at Leederville Oval.

“I haven’t worked for Bill in a couple of years but having watched some vision and seeing what they’re like, they’ll be a well-structured side.

“Bill is a very good coach at structuring his side to play against the opposition. They came off a good win against Peel after being beaten heavily by South Fremantle the week before.

“We’re confident we can beat them, absolutely. We’re confident we can beat any team. We need to bounce back from a tough loss against Perth. I know a couple of things that he might throw up and might do. Hopefully I’ll be able to give a little insight to the team and we can get the upper hand.

“It’d be good to get our first win for the season and hopefully the twos and Colts can win another game and continue their unbeaten record. It’d be fantastic for the club, absolutely.”