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West Coast Eagles youngster Murray Newman has put himself in the mix for a round one starting spot after an impressive pre-season that has breathed fresh life into the forward’s AFL career. The Eagles listed the rookie after he was sentenced to six months in prison following his conviction for fracturing a man’s jaw. But after missing all of last season, Newman is now believed to have put himself in contention for the club’s first game of the season, with head coach Adam Simpson seemingly ready to hand the rookie a chance to prove he has been worth all the hassle.

With Perth currently leading the A-League, and those betting on Glory confident of clinching this season’s title, the Eagles will be looking to build on the momentum from the city’s soccer team when the new AFL campaign gets underway. On the back of a disappointing season in which West Coast fell painfully short of reaching the finals, there is a firm belief among Eagles fans that the team that starts 2015 will be much stronger than the one that finished ninth last year. Newman’s return has played a part in that and the forward could add a very useful option to Simpson this season. Ever since scoring two goals on his AFL debut in 2012, Newman has been tipped to achieve big things with the Eagles and he’ll be hoping to be in headlines for all the right reasons this year. However, he still needs one of his teammates to be placed on the long-term injury list, opening the door for the returning youngster to add to his four AFL appearances.

As it stands, Beau Waters will likely head back to the long-term injury list after announcing his retirement. The 2012 All-Australian hasn’t appeared in the AFL since round 15 of the 2013 campaign due to a shoulder injury but had been closing in on a return to action over the past few months. Those plans were placed on ice, however, with the 28-year-old suffering a setback in pre-season training after taking another knock to his troublesome shoulder. Waters can class himself as one of the AFL’s unluckiest players in recent years and his prolonged absence has been a huge blow to the Eagles.

The defender was the youngest player in the club’s premiership team of 2006. But it’s been a tough eight seasons since then, with Waters restricted to just 87 appearances since then due to a string of injuries, missing the entire 2009 and 2014 campaigns. The Eagles man showed just how important he can be to the team during a sensational 2012 season in which he earned selection as an All-Australian. There have been plenty of occasions over the past season and a half when his absence has been felt by the Eagles, and while West Coast will get their 2015 campaign under way against the Western Bulldogs on April 4, his absence will be felt again.