AFL
Jonno Nash and Charlie Happell 24d

Eagles' rejuvenation begins with AFL draft

AFL

West Coast aren't ruling out giving an AFL lifeline to an older, de-listed player, as the Eagles embark on one of the greatest list rejuvenations in their history.

The Eagles must replace a star-studded list of retirees - Brownlow Medal winners Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell, and Drew Petrie - and offset the de-listing of experienced duo Sharrod Wellingham and Josh Hill.

"We need to look at regenerating our list with young talent as best as we can and the best way to do that is to always try and get your picks at the front-end of the draft," the Eagles' national recruiting manager, Rohan O'Brien, told ESPN.

"With our early selections, we'll go with the best available player. It's a unique situation with our retirements with Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell out of the midfield and Drew Petrie and Jonathon Giles as rucks, and Sammy Butler, who played a lot of footy in the backline, so there's a mix of players we'll need to replace.

"In a perfect world we'll be able to get a mix of types that could help us in all areas, but we won't compromise on talent to do that with our early selections."

West Coast have long preferred to stockpile talent via the draft, as opposed to recruiting mature players during the Trade Period. Traditionally the club is very quiet during that frenetic period, but the Eagles recently acquired a cluster of second-round picks between 13 and 32 to strengthen their draft hand.

"As a rule over the years, we've tried to draft our own talent and develop from underneath," O'Brien told ESPN. "That gives you the best chance of maybe having prolonged periods of success. That's always been our plan. It's probably been harder over the last four to six years because the expansion teams have strong, multiple picks." 

O'Brien said the hype around this year's draft isn't as strong as that for 2018, but he believes the club will be able to grab a talented crop of teens.

And they're not ruling out snapping up an AFL discard late in the piece.

"You have to be open-minded in the draft. We have picked up mature players in the past like Priddis and Mark Hutchings. It just depends who's available at what pick."

O'Brien doesn't subscribe to the belief that being chosen as the No. 1 draft pick is a burden, saying there's a misconception that the first-choice player is significantly better than the others.

"Unfortunately the perception around all of these boys is if you're No. 1, then you're 20 percent better than No. 2, who's 20 percent better than No. 3 and so on," he said.

"Generally, one way or another, they're all really good players. I don't know about it being a poison chalice. If you look at the players that have been there, they've all had pretty good careers."

^ Back to Top ^