WAFL: Lions belief strong heading into finals

Friday, September 1, 2023 - 10:40 AM by Matt Paddick


Subiaco is focused on returning to play their best football, as they head into the WAFL Finals.

The Lions finished the home and away season with a 12-6 record to finish in second spot, despite a final round loss to East Fremantle.

Emerging midfielder Rylie Morgan said while the loss was tough, there’s plenty of belief within the playing group.

“We didn’t finish the home and away season how we wanted to, but it can’t be lost the football we played at stages throughout the year to get us to where we are in second position,” he said.

“If we can get back to the basis of how we were able to rebuild our brand this year, we’re certainly capable of beating anyone that’s put in front of us.”

Morgan’s journey to playing consistent League football has been one unlike any other.

After dominating in the Colts during his time at Claremont, he was rewarded with a spot in the WA state 18s squad.

A couple of years later, he was awarded the Prendergast Medal as the Reserves’ fairest and best.

However, Morgan moved to the Lions ahead of the 2022 season, saying he wanted a fresh start.

“I came to Subiaco knowing it was never going to be easy to play League football in the midfield,” he said.

“But I knew I could give myself the best opportunity to do so with a big preseason and work really hard on my running to build my fitness base.

“You need to be a two-way player to play League football at Subiaco, which is something that was a big challenge for me early doors but it’s something I embrace.”

Morgan has played a different role than what he has done in the previous seasons.

With an improved aerobic capacity, the 23-year-old has been able to play the lock-down role for the Lions when required.

He has performed the role admirably when called upon, with his scalps including West Perth’s Shane Nelson, Peel Thunder’s Bailey Banfield, and West Coast’s Greg Clark.

Morgan said he was asked in preseason whether he could do it, and there was no hesitation on his end.

“I was in the mindset at the time that I’d do anything just to be playing League footy,” he said.

“When that was brought up, I thought, absolutely, if you want me to try and do a role with someone and shut someone down, I'd absolutely be happy to do so for the team. 

“I guess it can be at times unrewarding and a pretty selfless role, but it’s one that needs to be played.”

It’s a path not too different to Liam Hickmott, who has turned himself into one of the competition’s best midfielders after performing the tagging role for a number of years.

Morgan hoped he could follow on a similar trajectory.

“Playing on the best mids in the comp, you learn so much about their running patterns, their craft, and what makes them the most damaging players,” he said.

“I’m hoping that further down the line that I can progress from me playing this role for the time being and for while I can, to in the future being able to progress like a Liam Hickmott has.”

Up against Peel Thunder in the Qualifying Final, there’s always an unknown factor when playing the team from Mandurah, according to Morgan.

He said the different make up of the side based on Fremantle’s AFL selection made them a difficult team to read.

However, he said it’s about backing your system in.

“It’s always a challenge, but we always attack it with an open mind,” Morgan said.

“We know that our system works, Peel are a team that play a real chip-mark sort of game.

“They’re happy to hit the short kicks which invites pressure at times.

“Our best football is played when we’re building from our defence, so that’ll allow us plenty of opportunity to create that pressure.”