West Coast coach Adam Simpson says it would be unfair to label Luke Partington as the AFL club’s saviour, claiming the 20-year-old won’t be able to fix all of the team’s problems.
Partington has been named to make his AFL debut in Sunday’s clash with Brisbane at Domain Stadium.
The Eagles’ finals hopes hang in the balance after last week’s loss to Collingwood, dropping to ninth on the table with a 9-8 record.
Entering the season with the oldest list in the competition, West Coast fans have been desperate to see more of the club’s youth.
Tom Cole, Liam Duggan, Malcolm Karpany and Kurt Mutimer have been given more opportunities as the season has worn on, but injuries have prevented goalsneak Willie Rioli (hamstring) and No.13 draft pick Daniel Venables (foot) making their AFL debuts.
With West Coast casting more of an eye towards the future, Partington has finally been given his chance after a hot run of form in the WAFL.
Partington has averaged 27.4 disposals per game this season for East Perth, as well as booting 14 goals.
But Simpson is urging people not to put too much pressure on Partington, saying the team’s troubles can’t be fixed by one player.
“He’s in his second year. I just hope you’re not building him up to fail,” Simpson said.
“He’s getting some good numbers. But there’s more to footy than just getting the ball.
“He’s playing well. But to suggest he’s going to come in and dominate the competition – I think we’ve just got to take a deep breath.”
Sam Mitchell, Eric Mackenzie, Fraser McInnes and Malcolm Karpany were also brought into the 25-man squad.
Lewis Jetta (calf) and Matt Priddis (quad) were forced out.
Brisbane will be without suspended midfielder Dayne Zorko and decided to rest Eric Hipwood, Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage.
Michael Close, Jarrad Jansen, Claye Beams, Nick Robertson, Sam Skinner, Jacob Allison and Corey Lyons were all added to the extended squad.
Final-quarter fadeouts have been a big problem this year for West Coast.
In Sunday’s loss to Collingwood – when the Magpies booted the last five goals of the match – 13 Eagles players didn’t record a contested possession in the final term.
Simpson concedes his team are not fit or fast enough – areas he won’t be able to fix this year.
But Simpson says players still have the scope to improve their effort, and the fourth-year coach is determined to lift the group into a finals berth.