West Coast finished 10th and a game out of finals in 2014, but did little to change the shape of their list, relying on development from within to let them take the next step. One of those players whom they’ll hope can break into their best side and help them improve is Dom Sheed.
Sheed, after being selected with pick 11 in the 2013 AFL draft, was held back in his first season. He started with the green vest in six of his 10 games, the equal fourth most in the competition. In the other four games he only averaged 84 minutes on the field per game, much lower than his peers in the Eagles’ midfield.
Granted Sheed didn’t set the world on fire – he averaged 16.7 disposals and 4.2 tackles per 100 minutes, nothing impressive compared to his teammates in the middle.
He spent the rest of the season developing in the WAFL for East Perth. In his 11 games he showed much more promise, averaging 21.3 disposals and 4.7 marks per game. He was able to find consistency at this level, finding the ball 20 times in all bar two games, and also pushed forward to kick nine goals.
Sheed showed he can take the next step in the NAB Challenge. He won 28 disposals in his first two games, which were shortened, and an impressive 23 disposals in his last game against Fremantle. He also delivered the ball inside 50 14 times over the pre-season, the seventh-most of all players and the most at West Coast.
Kicking was a slight issue for Sheed in 2014, so it was also promising to see he used the ball at 75% efficiency in the pre-season.
West Coast have a variety of notable midfielders – Matt Priddis, Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff, Chris Masten and Scott Selwood lead the way. But few of them are very flexible, a necessary quality in the modern game. Sheed is also a midfielder at heart, but has shown ability in the forward half of the ground, finding targets inside 50 and hitting the scoreboard.
This was most obvious in the under 18 national championships. Sheed, captaining Western Australia, collected 29 disposals and kicked four goals to lead his side to a win over Vic Country, despite breaking his collarbone late in the game.
Sheed has grown slightly and put on muscle in the off-season, and has also worked on gaining some speed. West Coast will hope this translates to a more dynamic player with better attributes that can serve him well in 2015 and beyond.
Sheed can easily be a 200-game player for the Eagles. They’ll be hoping his last 12 months at the club lays the perfect platform to establish himself in their best side.