West Coast defender Tom Barrass is on edge – and the Eagles are reaping the benefits.
Barrass has been a shining light for the Eagles this season, with the 20-year-old announcing himself as a star in the making with some strong displays in defence.
The 194cm backman’s contested marking has added further strength to West Coast’s backline, and his solid form has kept 2014 club champion Eric Mackenzie out of the side for much of the second half of the season.
Fellow defender Will Schofield said it didn’t take him long to realise that Barrass was going to thrive in AFL ranks.
“I’ve been working really tightly with Tommy for a couple of years now. He hasn’t exceeded my expectations,” Schofield said of Barrass, who was taken with pick No.43 in the 2013 national draft.
“He’s an extremely talented guy. Physically he’s a big unit. Jumps high. Marks the ball at its highest points. He can match it with most blokes his size.
“For Tommy, it was just about getting that experience and confidence in the way he plays.
“He’s keeping Ezy out of the team at the moment. He’s under pressure every week, but I think he’s probably playing better because he’s on the edge.”
Barrass will receive another stern test in defence when he lines up in Saturday’s clash with GWS at Spotless Stadium.
The Giants are the second highest scoring team in the competition.
Jeremy Cameron has led the way this year with 44 goals, while Toby Greene (36), Steve Johnson (35), Rory Lobb (21), and Jonathon Patton (21) have also been important.
The match will play a huge part in deciding the make-up of the top four.
West Coast currently sit sixth with a 13-6 record, while fourth-placed GWS (14-5) are just percentage adrift of second spot.