West Perth has made an outstanding start to 2010 beating four teams expected to contend for finals action and now coach Bill Monaghan is looking forward to the challenge of a rampant Claremont this Saturday.
The Falcons have had a faultless start to the season with wins over Swan Districts, Subiaco, East Perth and South Fremantle before last week's bye which gave Monaghan the chance to have a good look at the also unbeaten Claremont.
The Tigers have thumped Peel, South Fremantle, Subiaco and East Fremantle all by at least 70 points to start the season setting up Saturday's potential cracker between the only two undefeated sides left.
Monaghan saw Claremont beat East Fremantle by 72 points on Saturday with Chad Jones booting eight goals, and Luke Blackwell, Byron Schammer, Eric Mackenzie, Lewis Stevenson, Tom Swift, Clancy Rudeforth, Andrew Foster, Ian Richardson and Nat Fyfe on fire.
He and his West Perth team are now looking forward to the challenge the Tigers present.
"It's great for the competition to have a side pushing up who has been out of the four for a couple of years now. It's always good to see an exciting side play and if you are a Claremont fan you'd be excited by what you've seen," Monaghan said.
"We'll get an opportunity to sit back and hopefully come up with a plan and then test ourselves against what is the best side in the competition at the moment even though we haven’t lost a game. On form and scores, most people would regard Claremont as the No. 1 side in the competition at the moment."
The Falcons might have surprised some outside the club with the start, but certainly nobody inside as Monaghan and the rest of the side knew how good they could be with a nucleus capable of taking on the best teams in the league.
With midfielders Jason Salecic, Ray Bartholomew, Matt Guadagnin and Rohan Bewick; ruckmen Mitch Andrews and Chris Keunen; defenders Dan Hunt, Dion Fleay, Dustin Burns and Matt and Luke Tedesco; and forward-line of Brent LeCras, Anthony Tsalikis, Jeff Gobbels and Jack Darling, Monaghan was always confident of a strong season.
"It's been a really positive start for us. It was good having the knowledge that we had a four-week block," he said.
"We knew it was going to be difficult playing four finalists from last year and the side that just missed out, but for us to start 4-0 is probably better than we could have ever expected.
"We, as a playing and coaching group, have faith in the players we have and whilst we might not be collectively the most talented squad in the competition, from my point of view we have a highly motivated bunch of players who are here to perform to their best. That's all that I can ask."
Strijk has been outstanding setting up play from half-back and averaging 20 possessions over the four games, which mean so much more with his penetrating and accurate disposal.
The West Coast-rookie wasn’t elevated as South Fremantle's Ashton Hams was, but Monaghan expects Strijk to get his chance.
"Obviously I'm going to be biased towards the player that I coach and I have no doubt that Andrew Strijk is capable of playing AFL football. He has all the attributes that you need as he's good in the air, has a strong body, runs well and kicks the ball extremely well," Monaghan said.
"I'm disappointed that he wasn’t the one elevated, but Ashton Hams has been a quality player in this competition for a number of years and has been playing fantastic football. I would have thought that Andrew has more run and carry in him than Ashton, but Ashton as a small forward or deep defender has played those roles more.
"All the best to Ashton and it's great when some of the more mature players get an opportunity at AFL level because it means we are doing something right as a competition."
Gobbels is another who has made a solid start to the season after missing most of 2009 with a broken leg. The hard-leading forward missed out on the South Fremantle game with Quinten Lynch and Kepler Bradley playing, but Monaghan sees him as a big part of the side.
"Jeff was squeezed out with our AFL boys coming back and whilst that's not something anyone wants, players in the WAFL understand that it happens. Jeff is very important to our set up as that hard leading forward, and I was lucky enough to play football with Andrew Donnelly at Subi and I liken Jeff to him," he said.
"He's good with his hands, pushes up hard and delivers the ball well coming into the forward 50. I'm not expecting to have Kepler Bradley or Quinten Lynch every week of the season, but Jeff will play a lot of football for us this year and over the next few seasons."
All good sides have depth as one of their features and with West Perth's reserves starting well after making last year's grand final, there are plenty of players pushing for spots. Among them are Jay Tindall, Regan Duckworth and Clayton Lasscock, with Keunen, Fleay and Luke Tedesco due back from injury.
"We've got a few blokes who've had a couple of injuries. Dion Fleay didn’t play last week and Chris Keunen was also out, but both should play against Claremont. Luke Tedesco might be another week away, but we'll reassess that next week," he said.
"Jay Tindall has been in outstanding form in the reserves and could well have played each week, so it's just a matter of time for him. Regan Duckworth is another who isn’t far away from returning to league football. His body is holding up well, he shows good leadership and he's a strong body.
"Clayton Lasscock seems to keep getting a series of unfortunate things happening to his leg that chases back to his golden staph infection. He's a valuable part of our set up still and we will find a spot for him and use him in a variety of roles when he gets back to full fitness."