Webster returns to Royals with winning his aimThursday, March 16, 2017 - 3:51 PM - by Chris Pike

LUKE Webster makes his return to East Perth as a senior coach in 2017 and the club great and premiership player is making no secret that his No. 1 goal is to win above and beyond anything else.

Webster retired folloing the 2010 WAFL season from East Perth bringing an end to a playing career that had plenty of challenges with four knee reconstructions, but some tremendous highs particularly with the Royals.

He played in the 2001 premiership with East Perth and following his 33-game AFL career with Fremantle ended that was dogged by the knee injuries, returned to the Royals as a co-captain.

He would ultimately retire with 109 matches to his credit following the 2010 first semi-final loss to Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval.

With his grandfather Ray, father Ron and older brother Ryan having also played with the Royals, East Perth means everything to Webster. That's why he is so passionate about now returning as senior coach for 2017.

Webster returned to Perth last year after a stint at Carlton which included coaching the Northern Blues in the VFL. After helping Jaymie Graham at the Royals, he was keen to put his hand up for the main job in 2017.

While there is always going to be that delicate balance of making sure you are doing the right thing by the alignment with West Coast, Webster is not backing away from the fact that winning has to be his main priority as coach of East Perth.

If it ever comes down to a choice between winning games or developing someone or something, the option that will help East Perth win is always going to be the one Webster chooses.

Having dealt with being coach of a state league side aligned to an AFL club before, he knows what to expect and how to make it work, so he is looking forward to getting the role underway.

"I put my hand up at the Northern Blues as a young coach thinking I wasn’t sure which way I wanted to go with my coaching, but I've quickly learned that you have to be a very good people manager so you can manage the players and manage the expectations from an AFL and WAFL-listed player point of view," Webster told Sportsday WA.

"Having dealt with that there, it will hold me in good stead going into this role and you also have to work out if your focus is on development or winning. From my point of view I definitely want to win and get East Perth back to being a successful footy club."

With East Perth and West Coast both having relatively healthy lists coming into the season, aside from Eagles big men Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett, Webster knows selection will be difficult at times. But it's his job to do what's in the best interest of the Royals.

"I don’t doubt that there are challenges along the way and that includes West Coast having a really fit list and me having a fit list at East Perth," he said.

"That's a good problem to have but it does obviously provide some selection dilemmas that you have to work through, but we try to pick the best team every week to run out onto the park that will give us a chance to win."

Webster is under no illusions, though, how difficult it's going to be to cover two retiring greats who stood down at the end of last season in Craig Wulff and Paul Johnson.

Not just for what they provided on the field, but they were remarkable role models around the club and he knows those sorts of players and people can't be replaced.

He might have been hoping for Brendan Lee to return, but he decided against it while Garry Moss has retired after his knee reconstruction and some impressive Royals youngsters like Clayton Giblett and Tom Omodei have gone looking for more chances elsewhere.

Despite all that, Patrick McGinnity is on board after finishing up at West Coast and has been appointed co-captain alongside Kyle Anderson.

Webster is looking forward to seeing what players like Scott Jones, Callum Hart, Julian Ameduri, Mitch Lague and Tom Hodgson do with the increased opportunity and responsibility that will come their way.

"It's always a difficult task to replace guys the calibre of Paul Johnson and Craig Wulff. I know we didn’t have Brendan Lee at all last year, but the year before we did and he is another quality WAFL player who we are going to miss," he said.

"But it gives a chance to some guys who performed really well in the reserves last year. Our reserves and colts both made grand finals so we have a lot of good young players coming through.

"Scott Jones is one guy who has been around for a while and played some good footy as a young ruckman, so we will look to give him his chances this year.

"Then there are guys who drifted between reserves and league like Callum Hart, Julian Ameduri, Mitch Lague and Tom Hodgson who we will hopefully provide more opportunities for this year."

Small forward Shayne Hille who can also do some good work further up the ground is another player Webster is looking forward to seeing take the next step with his football in 2017. Stan Wright and Asher Samelko are names to look out for too.

"Shayne Hille is a young kid who has played with us the last couple of years who can step up further. He played eight games for us two years ago and 14 last year, and he's had a really solid pre-season and good form in the practice games," Webster said.

"He has the attributes to be a really important player for us. Stan Wright played State 18s from the colts last year, has had good pre-season form as well and he is continuing to work on some things. But he has evolved from last year and hopefully he can play some good league footy this year.

"A kid who hasn’t played league footy yet either is Asher Samelko and hopefully we can see him step up. He plays as a tall forward and ruckman, and he has an athletic leap and build. He is still raw to the game of footy and is developing his skills, but he has good potential and hopefully we see him running around with us this year. "