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Inspirational leader Horsley eyes more State historySaturday, May 12, 2018 - 9:05 AM - by Chris Pike

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HE has played AFL football, is a WAFL premiership captain and is one of the most decorated players in the modern era but nothing trumps leading your State into battle for Kyal Horsley and he hopes to be part of more history on Saturday in Adelaide.

Horsley's resume is just remarkable with the Subiaco captain a three-time WAFL premiership player, dual flag winning skipper, two-time fairest and best winner, a 14-game AFL player at the Gold Coast Suns and a life member at the Lions with 166 games in the WAFL under his belt.

Remarkably, Horsley is now in his 10th season in the WAFL and he has played in seven Grand Finals for the three premierships. 

He missed selection in the 2007 premiership team but was part of the triumph in 2008 and then again upon return from the Gold Coast Suns in 2014 and 2015. He's also played in the Grand Finals of 2009, 2011, 2016 and 2017.

He has also represented Western Australia on three times previously and was captain last year for the history-making victory against Victoria in Melbourne.

Given everything the 30-year-old has accomplished, it would be easy for him to have taken the foot off the pedal a little.

But to watch Horsley play and lead Subiaco in 2018, he could very well be in career-best form and it's hard to mount a case that he isn’t the best leader and biggest impact player in the WAFL in a team that continues to take all before them.

The pain of losing the past two Grand Finals to Peel Thunder without question is a strong motivating force for Horsley too, but for now his focus is on leading the KIA WAFL State Team into battle this Saturday against the SANFL at Adelaide Oval.

After leading WA to the historic victory against Victoria in Melbourne last year, Horsley is aiming to lead the Black Swans to a first win against South Australia in Adelaide since 1994.

"Obviously it's a huge honour to lead the state. It's something that I hold very dear and I will look back on it extremely proud in the years to come. I was glad to accept the role once Broady offered it to me," Horsley told 91.3 SportFM.

"It means everything and it's the highest possible level you can play at in a state league. The history of it and the pride you have when you're named, I think every athlete wants to be recognised in some way and this is a way to be recognised for performing in the WAFL. 

"It's a huge honour to play in a State game and it's something that I know everyone really treasures and is looking forward to."

Looking at his own form in 2018, Horsley can't put his finger on anything being different except his body just feeling good.

The result has been a dominant five games from him with Subiaco looking unbeatable and unstoppable. He's averaging 31.2 disposals across those wins against East Perth, South Fremantle, Swan Districts, Claremont and West Perth that have come at an average of 76 points.

He's glad his body is staying sound up to this point and the combination that his mind has matured to know how to get the best out of himself and that his body is currently willing, that's proving a winning recipe.

"Nothing's really changed, I've just had a clean run with injuries. I obviously train at a high intensity all the time and I think as I got older the body just started to give way a little bit," he said.

"As your mind gets more developed and you understand the game more, your body starts to fail you which happens to a lot of people. But this year I have just had a clean run and thankfully it has held up."

Horsley couldn’t have been happier with the way the preparations have gone for Saturday's State game against South Australia either under coach Michael Broadbridge.

They have followed a similar plan to what worked so well to beat the Big V last year and Horsley is looking forward to hopefully seeing it all come together once more.

"When you look at club land, you have a whole four months of pre-season to work each other out, you do a lot of training together and a lot of full ground and stuff like that together," Horsley said.

"But when you have a group together for only a week, you sort of are relying on natural ability and you have to work on a game plan that's easy to follow and that everyone can buy into, and then really encourage defensive structures and what our set ups around the ball will be to showcase our natural ability."

Horsley couldn’t be happier with the mix of experience and youth in the WAFL squad either. 

There are the likes of Rhys Palmer, Sharrod Wellingham and Kane Mitchell fresh from the AFL system but then the likes of Corey Gault, Blaine Johnson, Cody Leggett and Rhys Waters who made the final 25 for the first time.

Horsley will be calling on those experienced players including Andrew Strijk, Tony Notte and Aaron Black to help the ex-AFL players lead from the front while also excited to see which youngsters can stand up on the big stage like Tim Kelly did in 2017.

"Having the guys who have just come out of the AFL and back into the WAFL has been great for the competition and obviously for the State game they will be critical for us especially when by the second half there might be 25,000 or 35,000 there cheering for South Australia and not giving us much support," he said.

"That experience of the guys playing in a hostile environment will be huge and then obviously with the youth of the young guys coming through getting their first taste of State footy, they will bring energy and their excitement before the game will be vital to us getting off to a good start in an away game."

The State game will be played at Adelaide Oval on Saturday in the lead up to the AFL Showdown between Port Adelaide and Adelaide.

That means a big crowd will start to roll in throughout the second half and Horsley is looking forward to that experience even if the environment could be rather hostile for the Sandgropers.

"It's going to be extremely difficult in that last quarter if it's a close game for us but everyone is really looking forward to getting the chance to showcase the playing types that we have," Horsley said.

"What the mature-aged guys that have been drafted out of the WAFL have been able to do this year are really showing what level the WAFL is. It's our responsibility now to take that into the weekend and show how good of a comp the WAFL actually is."