Shuey braced for Crowley challenge

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 22 Maret 2013 | 12.50

CLOSE COMPANY: Luke Shuey can expect another tight tag from Ryan Crowley in tomorrow's derby. Picture: Daniel Wilkins Source: PerthNow

WEST Coast midfielder Luke Shuey has thrived living in the shadows of Daniel Kerr, but his free ride is set to end this season.

With Kerr still on the sidelines recovering from knee surgery, opposition taggers are set to clamp down hard on Shuey, starting with tomorrow night's western derby against Fremantle.

Even when Kerr returns to action next month, taggers are likely to stick with Shuey more often than not given his destructive capabilities in the midfield.

Kerr has carried the mantle as West Coast's best midfielder ever since Chris Judd and Ben Cousins left the club at the end of 2007.

But there was a changing of the guard last year, with even Kerr admitting that taggers would be wiser to clamp down on Shuey instead of him.

"I wasn't happy with him. I put a big block of blue cheese in his locker that week," Shuey said with a laugh when asked about Kerr's comments.

Fremantle are one side who have already cottoned on to just how dangerous Shuey is, sending master tagger Ryan Crowley to him in the second western derby last year.

Kerr - no longer shackled by a tagger - racked up a game-high 36 possessions in that encounter.

But Fremantle's decision to play Crowley on Shuey proved to be a masterstroke, with the young Eagle restricted to a career-low 11 possessions as the Dockers romped to a 65-point victory.

That match-up is likely to be repeated tomorrow night.

Shuey says he hasn't copped many tags during his 52-game career, but admits he may have to end up getting used to them.

The 22-year-old said if that ends up happening, the likes of Scott Selwood, Matt Priddis and Kerr needed to make the most of their relative freedom.

"We are in the fortunate position where we do have three or four guys who can win a game off their own boot," Shuey said.

"It's going to make it a lot easier this year to play well if we share that load.

"I've been pretty lucky to play with Kerr for my first few years.

"(If you do get tagged), you've really got to sacrifice your own game a little bit and try to play a role for the team.

"But in the same context, you don't want to go too far away from playing your natural game."

Both sides enter the derby missing key players.

West Coast are without ruckman Nic Naitanui (groin), Kerr, Sharrod Wellingham (ankle), Matt Rosa (quad) and Mark Nicoski (hamstring), while Fremantle lost ruckmen Aaron Sandilands (hamstring) and Zac Clarke (foot).

Former St Kilda midfielder Jamie Cripps will make his debut for the Eagles, with the club also opting to include 20-year-old ruckman Scott Lycett to support Dean Cox.

Fremantle turned to Kepler Bradley to back Jon Griffin in the ruck, while 20-year-old Cameron Sutcliffe was included for just his fifth game.

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