West Coast captain Shannon Hurn has backed Josh Kennedy to bounce back from a recent form slump, insisting his premiership teammate isn’t done yet.
The dual Coleman medallist heads into tomorrow’s clash against Melbourne in Alice Springs with consecutive goalless outings, the first time that has happened since rounds 21 to 23, 2013.
Hurn said while there was plenty of outside noise about whether his vice-captain should play or retire, despite being contracted for next season, he was confident the 31-year-old could handle the pressure and had plenty of good footy left in him.
“There certainly has been a little bit more noise in the past two or three weeks,” Hurn said.
“I think that’s one of those things that happens when you play for as long as Josh has and you have such a high standard.
“If he has a couple of games where he doesn’t kick a goal, all of a sudden people say ‘can he still keep doing it’.
“Josh has been through that and he can handle that well.
“He’s still training well, still wants to improve and is still a very good player for us.
“Unfortunately that happens in your football career, you get to a point and you don’t quite play that well and everyone says that should be it.
“Josh is able to handle that and I think he’s still got plenty of good football left in him.”
The Eagles have rewarded a pair of in-form forwards for their dominant WAFL showings last weekend, with Jake Waterman and Jack Petruccelle returning to the 22. Waterman was best on ground in West Coast’s 69-point demolition of West Perth on Sunday, amassing career-best numbers in goals (six), marks (15) and disposals (25).
Petruccelle was also impressive in his return from a hamstring injury, booting five goals straight including a scintillating three-goal second quarter, to earn a recall in place of Jamie Cripps (abductor).
It means Tom Hickey will do the bulk of the ruck work against dual All-Australian Max Gawn and Brayden Preuss, with the Eagles resisting the temptation to debut athletic first-year tall Bailey Williams while Nic Naitanui is out with an ankle injury.
Brothers Corey and Josh Wagner return for the 16th-placed Demons, with Mitch Hannan and Kyle Dunkley dropped.