29/02/2024

Eagles' list manager Rohan O'Brien is extremely happy with their first round picks (Image: Fox Sports)

West Coast came out of night one of the AFL draft with two highly-ranked midfielders to extend their depth in the middle of the park, taking home-grown talents Reuben Ginbey and Elijah Hewett with picks 9 and 14.

It appears to be a positive return after splitting pick two for the pair of later picks in the first round, the Eagles have taken the route of local talent to ensure there’s no risk of homesickness.

Ginbey is a big-bodied midfielder out of East Perth who had plenty of game time in the WAFL. He entered the year as an impressive prospect but his performances for WA in the State Championships ensured he would be an early first-round pick.

West Coast List and Recruiting Manager Rohan O’Brien had worries he wouldn’t make it to the Eagles’ first pick and was thrilled to be able to get him at Pick 9. They’d had their eye on him as a local boy for most of the season and will be happy to bring him into the club.

“It was certainly a concern [that he wouldn’t be available],” O’Brien said.

“When we made the trade, to get Reuben in was the best outcome for us, there were other players available to us but he was our preferred result.

“We rated him really highly at the beginning of the year but his Champs performances [for WA] put him a little bit more in lights.

“At that point all the clubs probably had him going in the front part of the draft.”

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His teammate Elijah Hewett was linked to all clubs from picks 10 to 20, to see him go at 12 wasn’t a surprise but certainly shaped the remainder of the first round. A midfielder that models his game around Chad Warner, Hewett has electrifying speed out of contests and has tremendous skill execution when moving at speed.

He’s set to bring an x-factor to the West Coast midfield that has been sorely lacking since Luke Shuey’s injuries. O’Brien was happy to bring in two local talents that addressed a major concern for the club.

“Elijah’s a really talented forward/mid and another local boy which is a great result for us,” he said.

“He’s had a really good year for Swan Districts, and an outstanding game in the State Champs against Vic Metro.

“He was a really attractive option for us to take at that pick.”

A remarkable five WA players were taken in the first round of the draft, an outstanding review of the West Australian pathways. O’Brien was proud to see that the development in the western state is standing up amongst the others.

I think it’s a great result for WA footy,” O’Brien said.

“Clearly they’re producing some high-level talent as they do most years and I’m sure they’d be thrilled at the state academy to have five boys selected tonight.”

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