2019 AFL season preview: West Coast Eagles

In an period of sudden premierships, West Coast’s 2018 flag wasn’t as storied because the Western Bulldogs in 2016 or Richmond in 2017. The Eagles had performed off within the grand remaining solely three years earlier, however they needed to overcome a variety of burdens all the identical. Andrew Gaff was having his most excellent season but, and was on monitor for one of the best and fairest, however missed the final three rounds and your complete finals collection attributable to suspension. Nic Naitanui had gone down with an ACL solely two weeks earlier, and this was not lengthy after they'd stumbled out of the mid-season bye with three losses in a row. However West Coast put all of it behind them with an outstanding finals collection. A preventing win at residence over the Pies the place they needed to raise late to place the sport away; a surprising pulverisation of Melbourne within the prelim – and naturally getting back from 5 objectives down towards Collingwood within the grand remaining. The Canine haven’t made the finals since their flag. Richmond bought higher after their premiership and completed on prime, however failed on the penultimate weekend. How will West Coast fare because the reigning champ? West Coast finest 22 B: Tom Cole Tom Barrass Brad Sheppard HB: Shannon Hurn Jeremy McGovern Lewis Jetta C: Dom Sheed Luke Shuey Andrew Gaff HF: Jamie Cripps Jack Darling Jake Waterman F: Luke Ryan Josh Kennedy Willie Rioli Foll: Nathan Vardy Elliot Yeo Jack Redden Int: Tom Hickey Liam Duggan Mark Hutchings Jack Petruccelle Em: C.Masten D.Venables W.Schofield Nic Naitanui was not thought of for the above, given he's anticipated to overlook not less than Three-Four months on his return from harm, however would clearly come straight into the aspect. With Scott Lycett shifting to Port within the low season, the ruck division on the Eagles will look very completely different. Nathan Vardy will lead the ruck in Naitanui’s absence, as he did in 2017 when he carried out serviceably. Tom Hickey has been introduced in from St Kilda as assist, and can possible play given Adam Simpson’s penchant for having two rucks in his aspect. Vardy and Hickey will feed a midfield that appears extra harmful than ever given Dom Sheed’s emergence as real game-shaper within the finals collection final yr and Jack Redden coming off his finest season. No matter ruckmen, clearances are by no means going to be a problem when you've the hardness of Elliot Yeo and the explosiveness of Luke Shuey to enhance Redden’s extraction expertise. Yeo likes to drive the ball lengthy into the West Coast tall forwards, and Shuey loves a aim from a centre sq. clearance – and the brand new guidelines ought to play completely into these strengths. Sheed is an all-round contributor, and if his pre-season type is something to go by he is able to step into the league’s elite off that finals collection. Andrew Gaff has regularly gotten higher and higher over the course of his profession, changing into extra rounded and damaging as time has gone on. Dom Sheed of the Eagles celebrates kicking a aim throughout the 2018 AFL Grand Closing match between the Collingwood Magpies and the West Coast Eagles at Melbourne Cricket Floor on September 29, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photograph by Quinn Rooney/Getty Photographs) Mark Hutching has loved success as a tagger, and his hatchet job on Steele Sidebottom within the grand remaining will guarantee he stays a West Coast favorite son for a few years to come back. Jamie Cripps is one other coming off a wonderful season, ending fourth in one of the best and fairest – his second half of the yr was one of the best soccer he has produced, and in no small method coated for the lack of Gaff. Up ahead, Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling are a part of what appears to be like one of the best backbone within the competitors. Kennedy is succumbing to extra accidents as annually passes, and has produced diminishing returns with reference to video games performed within the final three seasons. Admittedly, his contact was excellent every time he returned from lacking matches final yr, which was a credit score to the person himself and the Eagles teaching employees. Darling grew to become a beast final season, essentially the most dominant energy ahead within the comp within the first half of the yr. His maturity was proven within the grand remaining when he had a horrible first half however was the important thing participant on the bottom within the third time period. That confirmed actual character, particularly as somebody who was remembered for a less-than-stellar second within the 2015 grand remaining towards Hawthorn. Liam Ryan and Willi Rioli have been fantastic finds up ahead, each averaging greater than a aim a sport of their debut seasons. Pure enchancment can and have to be anticipated from each of those gamers. Jake Waterman and Oscar Allen look to be in competitors for the third tall ahead position, and Jack Petrucelle is seen to have the within operating on the stress small ahead place. With Kennedy ever doubtful with harm, Cripps going through a delayed begin to the season, and the retirement of Mark LeCras, the West Coast forward-line could have a variety of completely different appears to be like about it this yr. Jeremy McGovern was rated the 12th finest participant within the league by The Roar Prime 50, and a few would have him increased nonetheless. Whereas Alex Rance has been seen by most as one of the best key defender within the competitors during the last 5 years, McGovern has claims to that mantle too. Jeremy McGovern (Photograph by Ryan Pierse/AFL Media/Getty Photographs) Between McGovern and Tom Barrass, who between them took virtually 100 contested marks final yr, it’s a troublesome ask to interrupt them down. Backmen that may win their very own ball within the air are a invaluable commodity within the fashionable sport. And that is the power of the Eagles backline, as a result of it's not simply McGovern and Barrass that again themselves in. Shannon Hurn is famend for his piercing proper foot, however can also be an outstanding reader of the play. Brad Sheppard was the hard-luck story in lacking the premiership via harm after taking part in 23 matches, but additionally backs himself in, and is an efficient kick. Lewis Jetta’s kicking might be essentially the most chic within the league when he’s firing, and Tom Cole additionally delivers the ball properly. Liam Duggan is bettering yearly, slots in properly with the identical set of expertise because the others round him. West Coast received their flag based mostly off a kicking sport, and numerous it began within the again half because of their distinctive ball customers – who turned defence into assault by successful the ball again themselves moderately than having it handed to them. The Eagles don’t have an enormous quantity of depth for a premiership aspect, though the three emergencies named above have been a part of the grand remaining staff. They're solely the eighth most skilled checklist for video games performed, which suggests they are going to acquire extra expertise and proceed to develop. Extra AFL 2019 AFL season preview: West Coast Eagles The extra we be taught, the much less we all know AFL prime 100: Spherical 1 choice highlights (half three) Definitive information to AFL 2019: Half one When the King of Asgard meets an AFL guernsey AFL Hurn is the oldest participant however is coming off an All-Australian yr, whereas Kennedy is the second oldest and accidents are taking their toll, however he's nonetheless a robust drive when match. Taking a look at final yr’s ladder on the finish of the house and away rounds, West Coast solely performs one prime six aspect within the first eight weeks. They are going to definitely get their probability to construct a platform from which to mount a flag defence. It’s exhausting to see the Eagles defence breaking down and their assault is multi-dimensional, with each areas of the bottom constructed round a robust key duo. The midfield has no apparent weak point, and so they have confirmed they'll cowl accidents. Add in a definite residence floor benefit and a sport fashion that's made to withstand the stress sport favoured by some rivals, it’s exhausting to see West Coast not difficult once more. Prediction: fourth Preview collection West Coast Eagles Richmond Tigers Essendon Bombers Larger Western Sydney Geelong North Melbourne Sydney Brisbane Hawthorn Port Adelaide Western Bulldogs St Kilda Fremantle Carlton Gold Coast