The Eagles have been consistently inconsistent since winning the 2018 premiership, missing the top four in 2019 and 2020 before completely missing finals in 2021. While almost invincible when playing in Perth, they become equally invisible when playing away from home.
This meant the Eagles struggled more than most throughout the past two Covid-hit seasons, forced to spend extended time on the road and unable to find their groove. Pressure intensified on coach Adam Simpson, and questions continued to be asked over the application of the playing group.
With an ageing list and plenty of questions to answer in 2022, the Eagles will be one of the teams to keep an eye on - their best would see them as genuine contenders, but they could equally finish in the bottom four.
In: Sam Petrevski-Seton, Campbell Chesser, Brady Hough, Rhett Bazzo, Jack Williams, Greg Clark, Hugh Dixon
Out: Nathan Vardy, Daniel Venables, Mark Hutchings, Brendon Ah Chee, Brayden Ainsworth, Ben Johnson, Will Collins, Jarrod Cameron, Jarrod Brander, Brad Sheppard
Clangers - 1st
Turnovers - 2nd
Centre Clearances - 1st
Disposals - 15th
Tackles - 18th
Tackles Inside 50 - 15th
Star player: Nic Naitanui
While Melbourne’s Max Gawn is the best ruckman in the AFL, ‘Nic Nat’ holds the mantle as its most impactful. Big, strong and athletic, Naitanui gives first-class service to his midfielders and follows up at ground level like nobody else in the competition.
Although he played 22 games in 2021, West Coast continued to nurse Naitanui due to concerns over his durability - he played more than 75% game time just once, and averaged just over 68% time on ground across the year.
Despite the limited game time, Nic Nat was able to land his second-straight All Australian in 2021 - and his third overall. And there’s no reason he can’t add to that if he plays another 22 games in 2022.
One to watch: Sam Petrevski-Seton
Taken at pick #6 in the 2016 National Draft, Petrevski-Seton played 94 games in six seasons at Carlton before making his way to West Coast in a three-way deal at the end of 2021. He was tried across all three lines in his time at Princess Park, but never truly settled on a position despite flashes of his talent.
After securing a move to his home state, there is no reason for the 24-year-old to fulfil his potential as he enters his seventh year in the system. If he can do that, West Coast have a seriously good player on their hands. If not, it’ll be yet another question that the club will need to answer.
Under pressure: Adam Simpson
The disappointment and inconsistency of the past two seasons has seen pressure intensify on the premiership-winning coach, with some of West Coast’s efforts while travelling over the past two seasons simply unacceptable. So unacceptable, in fact, that Simpson publicly blasted his side at times throughout 2021.
A return to ‘normality’ - if it eventuates - in 2022 should be in West Coast’s favour, but they appear to enter the season with a myriad of issues. Despite these, many expect a better showing from West Coast this year and, if it doesn’t happen, expect Simpson - and his job - to be put under the microscope.
If the previous two seasons have been a disaster for the Eagles, it’s hard to put into words what’s occurred this off-season. There are already questions on a list full of ageing stars, and they now enter the season with a number of best 22 players - including the likes of Oscar Allen, Jamie Cripps, Dom Sheed, Elliot Yeo and Liam Duggan - unavailable.
This is without taking into consideration the ongoing issues with Jack Darling, who - at the time of writing - refuses to be vaccinated, and the recent retirement of Daniel Venables and Brad Sheppard due to ongoing concussion issues.
The home ground advantage should see West Coast win a few games throughout the year, but the issues with personnel and travel could see 2022 be a painful year for the club.
Five matches to watch
Round 1 vs. Gold Coast, Optus Stadium, Sunday March 20
Round 3 vs. Fremantle, Optus Stadium, Sunday April 3
Round 6 vs. Port Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, Saturday April 23
Round 13 vs. Geelong, Optus Stadium, TBC
Round 22 vs. Fremantle, Optus Stadium, TBC
All time games
- Shannon Hurn - 301
- Dean Cox - 290
- Glen Jakovich - 276
- Darren Glass - 270
- Guy McKenna - 267
All time goals
- Josh Kennedy - 675
- Peter Sumich - 514
- Jack Darling - 450
- Mark LeCras - 441
- Phillip Matera - 389
MOST DISPOSALS: Dom Sheed - 579
MOST TACKLES: Jamie Cripps - 86
MOST CLEARANCES: Nic Naitanui - 158
MOST MARKS: Josh Rotham - 161
MOST GOALS: Jack Darling - 42