Eagles' top draft pick to be 'thrown in the deep end' in season-opener

WEST Coast draftee Bella Lewis will be thrown straight into the "deep end" against Adelaide on Saturday, with coach Daniel Pratt confident the midfielder is ready to go. 

Lewis was the first player selected in the WA pool of last year's NAB AFLW Draft and the hard-working midfielder has impressed in her first pre-season at the top level. 

Pratt said the Claremont product would take on a prominent midfield role against the Crows at Mineral Resources Park as the Eagles look to support key duo Emma Swanson and Dana Hooker. 

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"She's a straight-in type of player," Pratt said on Wednesday.   

"She's one of those girls who has played a lot of footy and she's natural in her style; her kicking and running and tackling looks very similar to how the guys play. 

"She'll get thrown in the deep end and see how she goes."

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Pratt said his focus as a first-year coach was to ensure the Eagles were competitive and played the game for as long as possible.

He expected the new gameplan he was implementing would become more ingrained the longer the season progressed. 

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"A lot of the games across the AFLW season come down to moments of two, three or four goals in a short period," Pratt said. 

"If we can get that right, that probably comes on the back of being as tough as we can be around the contest and being smart in how we play. 

"They're probably the two focuses."  

The Eagles will enter their second AFLW season with a strengthened midfield but will be relying on several young players to step up immediately as they manage a lengthy injury list. 

Swanson was excited about the addition of Lewis to the midfield, as well as former Western Bulldog Aisling McCarthy, who starred in the team's recent practice match against Fremantle. 

The West Coast captain acknowledged the team had work to do to catch crosstown rival Fremantle after a one-win season in 2020, but she was confident the Eagles would improve.  

"I think for a little while we're going to be like the little sisters of Western Australia, but we all know that eventually the little sisters get bigger," she said.