West Coast forward Mark LeCras is confident that the yet to debut Tom Barrass is more than capable of filling in for the injured Jeremy McGovern in defence for the Eagles.
The Eagles were written off by many at the start of the season when key defenders Eric Mackenzie and Mitch Brown required knee reconstructions, but they currently sit clear in second spot in the AFL.
McGovern had filled that defensive void well until injuring a hamstring in Saturday’s win at Etihad Stadium over Collingwood.
He’ll now miss a month on football.
Barrass, 19, now looks set to debut against Sydney on Sunday.
Drafted back in 2013, Barrass didn’t make his WAFL league debut until round five this season, but his form since at East Perth has been superb with his ability to spoil from any position and to take strong contested marks a standout.
LeCras has no doubt that Barrass can help fill the void left by McGovern, especially given they play a similar style.
“He has obviously been in great form in the WAFL, playing our way, the way we want him to play and he’s been training really well,” LeCras said.
“He has been training a fair bit with Gov and he has been able to play a bit like him at East Perth. Generally when we do match simulation at training Gov has been on one side and Tommy Barrass has been at the other end, so they play a similar way.”
Having beaten Collingwood in Melbourne for the first time since 2003, LeCras sees no reason why the Eagles can’t beat Sydney for the first time since 2007 on Sunday at Domain Stadium and to potentially go top of the ladder if Fremantle lose to Richmond on Saturday at the MCG.
“I don’t think so (concerns over not beating Sydney for so long) because a lot of the guys are sort of new. They’ve only come up in the last couple of years,” LeCras said.
“So they’re fearless in the way they take on opposition and I don’t think that will be in their heads at all. Our focus will be on what we can do this week but it’s going to be a tough challenge. We haven’t beaten them for a while.”