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Round 1 WAFL Preview v West Coast

Thursday, March 28, 2024 - 5:55 PM

A winning start to the 2024 WAFL season is the order of the day for Swan Districts coming into the Round 1 match at home to the West Coast Eagles this Saturday.

Playing catch up is the last thing Swan Districts want to be doing again this season after seeing how hard it was to do last year.

Swans were hugely competitive in the 2023 season in the first year under coach Andrew Pruyn, but ultimately losing five of the opening seven matches of the season by a combined 18 points is what cost them a finals position.

Throw in a horror injury run and Swans were never able to have close to their best team out on the park, but in the end it was those heartbreaking early tight losses where they were in winning positions in each of them that proved a bridge too far to overcome.

Now trying to avoid having to play catch up from the start of the 2024 season will be the focus heading into Saturday's match up with the Eagles at Steel Blue Oval.

The game will get underway at 2.30pm and streamed live on the AFL App if you can't get to Bassendean to cheer on the team in person.

Saturday's game will be the ninth time that Swan Districts has played West Coast in the WAFL dating back to 2019, and so far the black-and-whites are unbeaten against the Eagles.

Swans have won all eight of those games by an average of 31 points including winning both encounters last year by a combined 84 points – by 81 points in Round 8 and then in a heart stopper in Round 15 by three.

All eight of those games have also been played at Steel Blue Oval and now Swan Districts' sights will be sight on making it nine wins against West Coast.

New Swan Districts co-captain Jesse Turner did end up leading the team for a lot of the 2023 season after Chris Jones stepped down from his leadership role and with Brandon Erceg out injured with him on his way to claiming a second Swan Medal as the fairest and best winner.

His individual accolades continue to rack up and he's on track to reach 150 games during the 2024 season to earn life membership at Swan Districts, but what he wants more than anything is team success and a winning start on Saturday against the Eagles is the first goal.

"It's very important for us to start well not only for your confidence and feeling good, but just with how close the competition is you can't afford to lose the number of close games that we did last year," Turner said.

"We're well aware of that and we know that you look at West Coast and some people will put that down as a win, but we can't afford to do that and can't take them lightly.

"They look like they will have quite a few listed players playing so it won't be an easy game for us and we're well aware that we will have to be at our best to win.

"But knowing the importance of winning those early games is something that should have us ready and I think we'll be good to go, and I'm sure we'll give it our best shot."

One player already a life member at Swan Districts is returning defender Alex Howard.

He initially retired at the end of the 2021 season, but the 174-game defender is back for 2024 and he too knows how important it is to make a winning start having been part of the coaching staff the past two years.

"We've had a big emphasis over the summer and in these pre-season games that Round 1 is massive for us," Howard said.

"We know that just getting those one or two extra wins where we might have lost by a goal might have been the difference to being one of the top teams or even kicking an extra goal a game could put us top two or three.

"So it's those little margins like that which can change a whole season so we've been building really hard over these three practice matches towards that Round 1.

"Everyone is up and about knowing how important that is and what it actually means for a whole season instead of thinking it's just early in the year and you can get it back.

"We've proven over the last couple of years that starting well really matters so we'll go into this first game knowing what it means to put in a good performance against West Coast."