West Coast midfielder Mark Hutchings is building a strong case for a permanent spot in the AFL side.West Coast coach Adam Simpson admits Mark Hutchings has endured a “stiff” run on the selection front this season, but the unfashionable midfielder is building a strong case for a permanent spot in the side.
Hutchings has become accustomed to life on the selection edge, with the 26-year-old often shuffled in and out of the side on a horses-for-courses basis.
The 78-game AFL utility can play as a lock-down tagger or as an out-and-out midfielder.
The trouble for Hutchings is that lock-down players are going out of fashion, and he lacks the razzle dazzle that other midfielders possess.
But Hutchings’ grit has made him an asset at the Eagles, and one that Simpson values.
Not that the fifth-year coach can guarantee Hutchings a game every week.
Hutchings has already been overlooked for four of the club’s seven games this year.
But he’s almost certain to retain his spot for Saturday’s clash with GWS after tallying 27 disposals, 10 tackles, and one goal in last week’s 42-point win over Port Adelaide.
The loss of Luke Shuey to a hamstring injury will boost Hutchings’ selection chances over the coming weeks.
“Hutch has been stiff this year not to stay in our senior side,” Simpson said.
“We are set up a bit different this year with our mids, probably one or two less. He has probably been a victim of that.
“Him coming out of the side (in round six) and handling himself well at East Perth, we just have so much confidence that he can come in and do a job for us.”
The Eagles are hopeful Shuey’s right hamstring tear isn’t too bad, but the star midfielder is set to miss important games against GWS (Spotless Stadium) and Richmond (home).
West Coast are also set to be without star ruckman Nic Naitanui against GWS after he was slapped with a one-week ban for his heavy tackle on Port’s Karl Amon.
Some fans were shocked that the tackle drew a suspension, and West Coast may decide to appeal the decision.