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Higgins, Gault leading big men in KIA WAFL State TeamThursday, May 10, 2018 - 9:41 AM - by Chris Pike

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THEY have never represented their state before but Swan Districts' Corey Gault and South Fremantle's Brock Higgins will be the two main big men in the KIA WAFL State Team against the SANFL this Saturday at Adelaide Oval.

Last year it was dual premiership winning Claremont veteran ruckman Mitch Andrews who was able to make his debut representing Western Australia in the history-making State game victory against the VFL in Melbourne.

The trend of well-deserving big men earning their first state jumper will continue this Saturday as the KIA WAFL State Team head to Adelaide to play South Australia at Adelaide Oval as a curtain raiser to the Port Adelaide-Adelaide AFL Showdown.

Leading the way as the two big men for the WA team will be two men in tremendous form for at least 18 months now who will be pulling on the Black Swans jumper for the first time.

Corey Gault returned to his original WAFL club Swan Districts last year after five years with Collingwood in the AFL and was so outstanding as a ruckman that he ended up winning his club's fairest and best award.

Now in 2018, Gault has settled into more of a role as a key forward while then helping out teammate Nathan Blakely in the ruck at Swan Districts in a team that has started the season with a 3-3 record after the opening six rounds.

Then there is Brock Higgins. The rugged big man moved to South Fremantle from East Perth in 2014 looking for more league opportunities following 31 games at the Royals, and he has received that and more.

Higgins has fully embraced the role as the Bulldogs' No. 1 ruckman ever since and continues to virtually do the entire ruck work himself for just about the entire games. 

He is one of those rare beasts who gets better with the increased work load and it's his competitiveness and ability to perform for an entire four quarters against multiple opponents that make him a standout.

The 28-year-old has started the 2018 season in career-best form and he deserves to head into Saturday's State game leading the ruck for the KIA WAFL State Team while Gault will provide strong support while also being a good marking option up forward.

The pair played against one another last Saturday at Fremantle Community Bank Oval in what was a tremendous individual battle. Higgins finished the afternoon with 13 possessions, four marks and 42 hit outs as his South Fremantle team won a fourth straight match. 

He was also opposed to Blakely, but Gault ending up doing more of the ruck work as the game went on for Swan Districts and he finished with four goals along with 19 possessions, seven marks and 22 hit outs for the game.

That means that both men enter the State game on Saturday in terrific form and have well and truly to make their debuts for the Sandgropers at Adelaide Oval with WA trying to win in the City of Churches for the first time since 1994.

Going back to last year, Gault and Higgins were two of the outstanding ruckmen in the WAFL alongside Andrews from Claremont.

Now following Andrews' retirement after his 135-game career, Gault and Higgins are the two standouts so far in 2018. 

Gault was named the WAFL Ruckman of the Year in 2017 having earned a spot in the Team of the Round on nine occasions throughout the season.

Higgins also made the squad for the Team of the Year after earning six gigs in the Teams of the Round so both players have been delivering strong form over a consistent period now heading into Saturday's State clash.

Highlighting just why Higgins and Gault deserve to be proud of selection is the fact that the players they have been picked ahead of includes Zac Clarke from Subiaco and Jonathon Griffin from East Fremantle.

Gault was drafted to Collingwood from Swan Districts at the end of 2011 and went on to spend five years with the Magpies. 

The versatile big man played six games in the AFL in that time but by the end of 2016 and after a year interrupted with injury and some concussion issues, he felt it was time to return home. 

Gault never considered anything but coming back to Swan Districts and he went on to enjoy the 2017 season immensely.

"It was a really enjoyable year as well coming back from the AFL system," Gault said.

"When you are there you have all that pressure and scrutiny that isn’t so much from the media or anything, but more so in game reviews and making sure that you are performing week in and week out in a professional environment. Sometimes when you're not doing that it can weigh on you. 

"So just getting back to Swan Districts and really enjoying my footy again and playing with a few mates and making some more mates made it really enjoyable. Getting back to playing in the ruck was great too because I am enjoying that position and it's what I did prior to getting drafted."

Looking back on those five years at Collingwood, Gault is happy he got to experience what he did and now at 25 years of age, he would jump at a second chance in the AFL if it were to eventuate later this year.

"I guess a few indifferent things happened to myself over my time at Collingwood with a bit of form, injury and I struggled a little bit with concussion in my last year as well," he said.

"I just thought it was best that I came back home and got back to enjoying footy again. I've actually gone back to uni as well and I'm in my last year of completing my phys ed degree at Notre Dame. 

"I've absolutely got ambitions to get back into the AFL system but whether my form and whether clubs are interested, that's another story. But if things go my way this year, I'd definitely be keen to put my name back in the ring and see what happens."

As for this year, Gault is enjoying the new role with Nathan Blakely's return after a two-year absence meaning he's not required to keep the majority of his time in the ruck at Swan Districts.

"It's great having Nathan back. I played a fair bit of footy with him before I got drafted actually and this is pretty much the same role we've had this year but he probably played a bit more forward back in 2011 and I spent more time in the ruck," Gault said. 

"But since he's come back those roles have reversed a bit and he is playing predominately ruck and I'm slotting up forward. 

"Compared to last year obviously I had lot more ruck time but this year with the way the team has shaped up with Ricky Cary going off to play country footy, they thought it was best for the team for me to slot in up forward. It's going pretty well so far."