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17 Dec

AFL Premiership miss drives Eagle LeCras

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When West Coast veteran Mark LeCras is doing it tough, the memory of the club’s 2006 premiership helps push him through the pain barrier.
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LeCras was just 20 years old and in his second season when the Eagles won their most recent premiership.

He probably would have ended the season with a premiership medallion around his neck if not for a shocker in the qualifying final loss to Sydney.

LeCras entered that match full of confidence after booting 5.4 in the final-round win over Richmond.

But his return of just 0.1 from two disposals against Sydney in week one of the finals resulted in his swift axing.

LeCras could only watch on as West Coast went on to win the flag.

Goalsneak Steven Armstrong – playing a similar position to LeCras – etched his name in AFL folklore with a crucial snapped goal in the final term as West Coast beat Sydney by one point in the premiership decider.

LeCras has been desperate to experience his own premiership fairytale ever since, and he hopes his dreams will come true in Saturday’s grand final against Collingwood.

“I was only a young guy in 2006, and had only played six games,” LeCras reflected.

“So to go through that as a young kid and see guys achieve their premiership goal really helped drive me throughout the rest of my footy career.

“It’s something that I’ve thought about at times, when you’re going through a tough session during the pre-season or something like that.

“To see those guys go through those emotions after the game – it’s something that you strive for.”

There were growing calls for LeCras to retire at the end of last season following an inconsistent campaign.

But he has defied the critics this year by playing an integral role in West Coast’s new-look attack.

The 218-game veteran has booted 32 goals from 22 games, and played a vital role in mentoring newcomers Willie Rioli (27 goals) and Liam Ryan (20 goals).

LeCras was part of the West Coast side that copped a 46-point hammering from Hawthorn in the 2015 grand final.

The 32-year-old feels the Eagles are in a much better space this time around to handle the big occasion.

More than 100 Eagles fans cheered their heroes at Perth Airport on Thursday as West Coast’s squad arrived for the trip to Melbourne.

Both Collingwood and West Coast named unchanged line-ups.

Jeremy McGovern (corked hip) and midfielder Luke Shuey (ankle) have been cleared to play by West Coast, while the Magpies have played down any injury concerns surrounding defender Jeremy Howe (ankle) and forward Jordan De Goey (leg).

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