State defender Jackson Ramsay will be rested tonight as East Perth face a West Coast side that contains nearly half the players used in the Royals’ most recent final.
Ramsay has played strongly in all five East Perth games this season in his comeback from a knee reconstruction required after he ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in the opening match last season.
The former Collingwood defender has won 23, 25, 29, 33 and 33 possessions in his five appearances to be East Perth’s best player this year and sole selection in the WA team that lost to SA on Sunday.
But the Royals are cautious about playing the 24-year-old at Leederville Oval tonight given the four-day break after the State game.
Ramsay walked laps of Leederville Oval rather than join East Perth’s main training session on Tuesday.
Veteran Sharrod Wellingham will also miss the game against his former AFL team after battling hamstring soreness.
He spent most of the training session on an exercise bike on Tuesday.
Players in both State teams pulled up sore on Sunday and reported that the Optus Stadium surface was significantly harder than anticipated.
That legacy could have an impact for unbeaten Subiaco in their big clash with third-placed South Fremantle on Saturday given that eight Lions played in the State team.
East Perth coach Jeremy Barnard has one of the biggest challenges in modern WAFL history given that he must rebuild a league team missing more than half the players used last season.
The Royals averaged 12.5 West Coast players in every league match last season during the final year of their alignment with the AFL club.
Twelve Eagles were part of the East Perth team that lost last year’s elimination final, with up to nine of them likely to be in action for West Coast tonight.
The undermanned Royals overcame Swan Districts in round two but are the lowest scoring team in the league and have been beaten by an average of 58 points in each of their other four matches.
Ellenbrook product Kye Willcocks will make his debut for the Royals.
West Coast named ruckman Tom Hickey to make his WAFL debut but did not include veteran utility Chris Masten on the extended interchange bench.