15/04/2024

Oscar Allen is set to take over the number one mantle from Josh Kennedy. Photo: West Coast Eagles

One door closes and another opens at the Eagles, with Oscar Allen ready to graduate from student to master in 2023.

Following the retirement of future Hall of Famer Josh Kennedy, all eyes have turned to Allen to spearhead the West Coast forward line. The 23-year-old has shadowed Kennedy in his five years, learning his craft from one of the modern game’s great key forwards.

Sitting down with The Inner Sanctum, Allen spoke glowingly on the influence Kennedy has had with his game and his far-reaching impact across the footy landscape.

“JK’s a legend. He has so much respect around the AFL industry and it’s not just because he’s a great player, but because he’s a great bloke as well,” Allen said.

“He’s been somewhat of a mentor for me for the last five years and I’ve really enjoyed working with him.

“He’s had a terrific career and I wish him nothing but the best.”

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Allen is on track to have a full pre-season after his 2022 campaign was wiped away in May due to a reoccurrence of a stress fracture in his foot.

After a conservative approach to his rehabilitation, the dynamic Eagle has his eyes firmly set on day one of pre-season and will carry the brunt of an offence that has been crying out for his aerial presence all season.

“It’s been really frustrating – both personally and as a side we haven’t gone as well as we’d like,” he admitted.

“The foot is coming along well though, we’re getting some good progress and we’re gearing up to be ready for the start of next year.

“We’ve had a pretty conservative with it, making sure we’re ticking all the boxes. Come pre-season I’ll be ready to have a clean run at it and get into a good year.”

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Without Allen in the lineup, West Coast has slumped to a 2-18 record after 20 games and is heading toward its worst win-loss season in AFL history, including its four-win wooden spoon in 2010.

There have been bright spots in a gloomy year, though, with the club debuting a host of youngsters.

Allen hasn’t let this season go to waste either, taking up game-day roles on the boundary to stay engaged and round out his off-field impact for the club.

“Holistically, with the game-plan you learn bits and pieces about what we’re trying to achieve as a side and the direction we’re trying to go.

“It’s pretty rewarding when you have younger guys come in and play well, and you’re somewhat a part of it.

“I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s something I didn’t think I would be doing at the start of the year but it’s been good.

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“Brady Hough and Rhett Bazzo are really promising young defenders, Connor West was a mid-season draft pick last year and obviously Jai Culley.

“We’ve had 16 debutants this year so there are promising signs from the younger guys.”

West Coast will be hoping a clear run at it sees Oscar Allen soar to new heights as he leads the latest generation of Eagles in 2023.

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