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FALCONS GEAR UP TO GO UP A LEVEL IN 2017

Friday, December 23, 2016 - 5:35 PM by Chris Pike

WEST Perth wasn't too far off the top WAFL teams in the 2016 season and the Falcons have taken some encouraging steps towards being a premiership contender once again in 2017 with promising signings.

The Falcons made a slow start to the 2016 season losing four of the first five games but went on to win 12 of the next 15 to qualify for the finals in third position before losing to South Fremantle and Peel Thunder.

Having played in two of the previous three grand finals and then being third at the end of the home and away season, the Falcons won't need to improve much to be a genuine contender again in 2017 with the majority of the core playing group set to return.

The first announced signing of the off-season was the recruitment of versatile key position player Scott Simpson.

Having been on Geelong's AFL list, Simpson had a strong VFL career including playing in the state game against Western Australia at Northam in 2013 while continuing the last two years to be one of the best players in the Nepean Football League with Somerville.

He now arrives at West Perth in 2017 to supply some added quality, experience and depth to the key position department for the Falcons alongside the likes of Michael Lourey, Nick Rodda, Tyler Keitel and Mark Hamilton.

The latest player to sign that West Perth wishes to announce is Jarrhan Jacky who was originally drafted to Adelaide from Subiaco. He played three AFL games at the Crows in 2008 before returning to the WAFL in 2011 with Swan Districts.

Jacky had a terrific first season and a half with Swans before injury ended his 2012 prematurely. He then signed with Peel Thunder for 2013 but played just two league games before rupturing his ACL and requiring a knee reconstruction.

He then joined Subiaco the next year but managed only five reserves appearances.

However, Jacky is still only 27 years of age and at his best is one of the best running and skilful players in the WAFL. West Perth will be hoping to see him recapture some of that form from 2011 in 2017.

Riley Hutchinson is another player that West Perth is excited to add to its playing group for 2017. The former East Perth product played one league game at East Perth as a 17-year-old back in 2011 before spending 2012 in the colts.

He was part of the WA State 18s program in both 2011 and 2012 as well. The 22-year-old now joins the Falcons in 2017 ready to ignite his career at league level in the WAFL.

Cale Delbridge is another new arrival at West Perth for 2017. The prolific ball winning midfielder comes to the Falcons from the Mines Rovers in the Goldfields Football League where he has won the fairest and best award two of the past three years.

He will look to force his way into the West Perth midfield in 2017 and show that he can transfer his form from Kalgoorlie into the WAFL.

While the dream of the three van Berlo brothers won't eventuate in 2017 with Nathan remaining in Adelaide to work with the Crows following his retirement from the AFL in 2016, Jay will be welcomed back by younger brother Mitch in 2017.

Another player returning to the Falcons is Will Michell. Following strong colts seasons in 2013 and 2014, the 20-year-old is back at West Perth gearing up for 2017 and trying to breaking into the line-up to make what would be his league debut.

As always, the movements at a WAFL club are never one way with West Perth farewelling former captain, life member and premiership defender Luke Tedesco who has retired.

Premiership star and hard running wingman Rohan Kerr has also departed following four strong seasons with West Perth after arriving from Carlton in the AFL.

Vice-captain and 2013 premiership defender Laine Rasmussen also won't be at West Perth in 2017 due to a combination of work commitments and some travel he will partake in.

Drew Rohde has become an important part of the Falcons team the past two seasons but he won't be there next year either with work and study commitments taking priority.

Matt Johnson was a late return for 2016 but now the powerful left-footer has again departed for 2017.