WAFL 2022: Kyle Baskerville answers SOS to go from defender to one of East Fremantle’s best midfielders

Headshot of Mitchell Woodcock
Mitchell WoodcockThe West Australian
East Fremantle's Kyle Baskerville has transformed himself into one of the WAFL’s best inside midfielders.
Camera IconEast Fremantle's Kyle Baskerville has transformed himself into one of the WAFL’s best inside midfielders. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

The emergence of Kyle Baskerville as one of the WAFL’s fastest rising inside midfielders was the shining light of East Fremantle’s injury crisis in 2021.

A shutdown defender who played on some of the competition’s best small forwards in West Perth’s Keegan Knott and Peel’s Hayden Ballantyne, injuries to midfielders in Josh Schoenfeld and Cody Leggett left a role coach Bill Monaghan desperately needed to fill.

Monaghan turned to Baskerville, who did not let him down, recording an incredible 28 disposals, 13 contested and eight clearances in his final seven games to stamp himself as one of the best midfielders in the WAFL.

The 23-year-old was rewarded by winning his first Lynn Medal as the club’s fairest and best last year ahead of captain Matthew Jupp and former AFL midfielder Jarrad Jansen.

But he is not slowing down this season, averaging a career-high 30 touches including a 39 disposal, 10 clearance performance against Swan Districts in round two.

“I played a lot of my junior footy as a midfielder, but at WAFL level we had a lot of good midfielders in our side so I got pushed down back,” Baskerville said.

“The transition has been pretty easy just through the fact I’ve got some great teammates around me, they’ve been helpful.

“The coaching staff has been good in backing me in the fact they’re backing me in to try to do my best to win the footy. Fortunately enough it’s been working so far, so hopefully, I can keep going, keep building and help this team win as many games as possible.”

Monaghan said Baskerville had grown as a player since returning from playing country football in 2018.

“When he first came back to the club we thought he’d be a midfielder, we played him initially on a wing and he struggled to find a bit of the ball,” he said.

Sport. East Fremantle midfielder Kyle Baskerville at the WACA ahead of their match against West Coast on Saturday. Jackson Flindell
Camera IconSport. East Fremantle midfielder Kyle Baskerville at the WACA ahead of their match against West Coast on Saturday. Jackson Flindell Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

“We moved him back and he really developed down.

“I think those skills have really helped him because while he’s got some strong attacking attributes, he’s got good defensive skills. He’s still only 23, so there’s plenty of growth in his game, willing to learn and he’s a leader around the group.”

Baskerville said the Sharks had quality players across every line to beat any side.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in our group. We’ve got good older boys and some good younger guys coming through, so we’ve got all bases covered,” he said.

“We’re confident we can match it with any side in the competition at the moment, we’ve just got to build on our four-quarter performances.”

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