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18 Apr

Eagle Darling praises ‘fun’ forward line

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West Coast forward Jack Darling will be a crucial player in the AFL grand final against CollingwoodWest Coast forward Jack Darling is in the form of his life but it’s not the only reason why he’s having so much fun.
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Darling is averaging a career-high 2.35 goals per game this season, with his strong contested marking a highlight.

West Coast are a perfect 12-0 when Darling and Josh Kennedy have played together this year, and the pair will be crucial planks in Saturday’s grand final against Collingwood.

But as good as Darling and Kennedy have been this season, it’s West Coast’s small forwards who have also been key to the team’s success.

Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan have been revelations in their debut seasons, while Jamie Cripps is enjoying a career-best year.

Veteran Mark LeCras has also been vital with 32 goals.

“The forward set up we’ve got going at the moment sure is a lot of fun to be part of,” Darling said.

“The new guys that have come in this year have really bought in and played their role, especially with their defensive pressure.

“A massive part of my game in the air is to make sure I at least bring the ball to ground.

“If I mark it, then that’s a bonus.

“I definitely try not to get outmarked. If I bring it to ground, we have those amazing smaller guys who can do some amazing things.”

Darling endured a nightmare performance in the 2015 grand final loss to Hawthorn.

The 26-year-old managed just one goal from 10 disposals, with his horror dropped mark in the third quarter costing the team dearly.

But Darling feels far better prepared to deal with the occasion this time around, and has gained confidence from his hot form this year.

However, he is keen to improve his accuracy in front of goal.

The 191cm forward has booted 19.16 since returning from a serious ankle injury in round 17, including 3.3 in the preliminary final win over Melbourne.

“All year haven’t really been kicking straight,” Darling said.

“If I play a good game, it’s usually 4.3 or something like that.

“At least I’m getting shots. Hopefully in the grand final it will come together.”

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