13/04/2024

The Eagles will be looking for another dominant season for Tim Kelly in 2024. Photo: The Inner Sanctum/Daniel Cohen)

A wooden spoon. A 30-goal thrashing. A 100-point Derby mauling. 2023 couldn’t have gone much worse for the West Coast Eagles. However, the optimism remains flying high, with Pick 1 Harley Reid bringing in hype not seen since the arrival of Chris Judd. How will the Eagles, led again by Adam Simpson, go in 2024?

2023 Overview

2023 was another season largely to forget for the West Coast Eagles. An injury list that started long and just got longer, frequent blowout losses and another wooden spoon – there was little to cheer for on-field.

Long-term injuries to many key players, however, meant that the club was able to get games into many youngsters a lot quicker than perhaps they would have in a normal year. Nic Naitanui played no part in the season, giving Bailey Williams an opportunity to flourish as the solo ruck.

Josh Kennedy’s retirement in 2022 meant Oscar Allen was given the opportunity to lead the forward line, a job he did to great effect, kicking 53 goals for the season.

The new recruits were most notably led by Reuben Ginbey, who quickly demonstrated his ability to tackle like a seasoned veteran, and the midfield was held together as best-as-possible by best and fairest winner Tim Kelly.

Despite these glimpses of the future, overall the season could only be seen as a disappointment for such a proud club.

Off-Season Changes

INS

Tyler Brockman (Hawthorn), Matt Flynn (GWS), Harley Reid (national draft pick 1), Archie Reid (pick 30), Clay Hall (pick 38), Harvey Johnston (pick 49), Loch Rawlinson (Rookie draft), Coen Livingstone (Category B rookie)

OUTS

Greg Clark (delisted), Luke Foley (delisted), Nic Naitanui (retired), Xavier O’Neill (delisted), Sam Petrevski-Seton (delisted), Luke Shuey (retired), Connor West (delisted), Isiah Winder (delisted)

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Fixture

Finishing 18th in 2023, the Eagles have been handed a fixture that best helps them make their way back up the ladder quickly. A tough start awaits with an away match in Round 1 against Port Adelaide, with their home opener set for Round 2 against the GWS Giants, a side they beat at home in one of their three wins last year.

Gather Round (Round 4) sees the Eagles play the Swans in the Adelaide Hills at Mt. Barker, and always a highlight are the Western Derbies – set this year for Round 6 and 20.

Other double-up matches in 2024 include bottom six sides North Melbourne and Gold Coast, as well as winnable opponents in Essendon and St. Kilda. Two matches against perennial finalists Melbourne will be tough.

The Eagles’ season finishes with a tough home game against Carlton then, in the final round, a daunting road trip to Geelong. 

FULL FIXTURE

Round 1 @ Port Adelaide (Adelaide Oval)

Round 2 vs GWS

Round 3 @ Western Bulldogs (Marvel)

Round 4 vs Sydney Swans (Mt.Barker)

Round 5 vs Richmond

Round 6 v Fremantle

Round 7 @ Gold Coast (Heritage Bank Stadium)

Round 8 v Essendon

Round 9 @ Collingwood (Marvel)

Round 10 vs Melbourne

Round 11 @ Adelaide (Adelaide Oval)

Round 12 v St.Kilda

Round 13 vs North Melbourne

Round 14 – BYE

Round 15 @ Essendon

Round 16 vs Hawthorn

Round 17 @ Melbourne (MCG)

Round 18 vs Brisbane

Round 19 @ St.Kilda (Marvel)

Round 20 @ Fremantle (Optus Stadium)

Round 21 vs Gold Coast

Round 22 @ North Melbourne (Blundstone Arena)

Round 23 vs Carlton

Round 24 @ Geelong (GMHBA)

Looking Ahead to 2024

Harley Reid. Those two words bring great hope for Eagles supporters in 2024. The Eagles won in Round 22 last year, seemingly losing the chance to draft the touted generational talent, only for North Melbourne to win in Round 23 and hand the first pick back. 

Fans will be out in force to watch the young gun, with coach Adam Simpson hinting at some midfield time combined with some run and carry off half-back to begin with, similar to the role Nick Daicos played at Collingwood in 2023.

Aside from Reid, the natural development of the many youngsters who played last year will hopefully be on show early on. Ginbey and Williams in particular, as well as newly appointed co-captains in Allen and Liam Duggan, should continue to improve and lead to more on-field success.

Greater consistency is really what supporters will be looking for. Too many times in 2023, the Eagles would win quarters against good competition, only to fall away in patches.

If things don’t start well, the heat will come quickly onto Simpson, whose position was questioned after a poor 2023. This scenario is obviously the worst case, as it will put the Eagles in the news for all the wrong reasons. 

Prediction

Better than 2023, where there were only three wins. Harley Reid, if fit, could easily win the Rising Star award and with greater consistency on field, the Eagles would be hoping for 6-7 wins for the season to be deemed a success. Don’t forget that in 2011, the Eagles went from bottom of the ladder to a preliminary final, so things can turn around quickly, although this is unlikely.

Predicted Finish: 16th

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