Liam Ryan was influential in West Coast’s 51-point hammering of the Western Bulldogs.When you play with Nic Naitanui, it’s a hard task to be the most exciting player on the ground.
But ask anyone at Etihad Stadium on Sunday and you’d hear that Liam Ryan will run him close as West Coast’s season goes on.
The 21-year-old looks destined to take mark of the year, and kick plenty of goals on the way.
He flew over Jackson Trengove for a first-quarter grab against the Western Bulldogs that had teammates punching the air.
Ryan finished with 3.3, showing his prominence in front of goal and his unpolished talent.
He said he owed his performance to Lewis Jetta, the premiership-winning forward turned Eagles backman, who had taken him under his wing since joining the club.
“I had a bit of confidence today from Lewy Jetts,” he told AAP.
“We had a chat last night. He told me just to play footy.
“We’ve gotten close.
“I travelled over with him. He looked after me as a brother, looking after a little indigenous brother.
“That’s what we came to Melbourne with. Brotherhood. It’s what we played with and why we won.”
Ryan’s pace is one of the reasons that West Coast, 51-point winners over the Bulldogs, might just surprise teams this year.
With back-to-back home matches at Optus Stadium ahead against Geelong and Gold Coast, Ryan urged the crowd to get behind the team over the next fortnight as they look to get ahead of the ledger.
“The fans are bringing energy and we’ve got to play with energy,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of speed and we’re going to play with speed.”
Stand-in coach Jaymie Graham – who as forward-line coach has had plenty to do with Ryan since he was drafted – saluted the youngster’s professionalism.
“He’s shown real consistency and maturity and I don’t think enough people give him credit for how mature he is,” he said.
“He had a good performance last week and this week it was great to see him take one of the marks we know he can take.”