02/03/2024

Coby Burgiel, Reuben Ginbey and Jedd Busslinger. Photos: Vic Country and WAFL

After trading down from Pick 2 and acquiring multiple first-rounders, the Eagles are right in the fold for a host of highly-touted West Australians – but they won’t be afraid to go interstate.

West Coast lays claim to an enviable retention rate of interstate draftees. You only need to look at premiership captain Luke Shuey, or wingman Andrew Gaff who baulked at big-money offers from Victoria to remain a one-club player.

As they did with Campbell Chesser last year, the Eagles will back their culture to draft from anywhere in the country.

READ: AFL Draft Power Rankings: The top 50 prospects in 2022

West Coast’s draft hand: 8, 12, 20, 26, 71

Going local in the first round?

At Pick 8, West Coast has its sights set on inside bull Reuben Ginbey. The Dunsborough talent took out WA’s State Championships MVP after dominating performances through the midfield. He’s physically advanced and plays with a frenetic energy, tackling and pressuring maniacally. Ginbey would add some much-needed grunt through the middle of the ground.

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If Jhye Clark slips past Geelong expect the Eagles to heavily consider the Falcons captain, while Bailey Humphrey is a slim chance of slipping through if the Suns opt for Ginbey at Pick 5.

At Pick 12 one of Ed Allan or Jedd Busslinger will likely be available. 

Allan is the bolter of the draft. Returning from a stress fracture in his back in the second half of the year, he put himself in first-round calculation with the fastest 20-metre sprint time at the national combine. 

At 194 centimetres, it’s an athletic profile that projects him to be able to play in a variety of roles similar to Geelong’s Mark Blicavs.

Busslinger missed the second half of his draft year after undergoing shoulder surgery, but he’s undoubtedly the best key defensive option in the pool. He reads the ball beautifully and backs his hands in the air, plus gets forward to link up play on the rebound.

He could form an exciting long-term partnership with Rhett Bazzo, but the Eagles may have other areas to address before key defensive stocks given the brilliant best of Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass.

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If Cam Mackenzie somehow slipped through expect the Eagles to pounce, while Elijah Hewett is a star WA on-baller that West Coast has been tracking closely for a number of years.

Need for speed in the second round

At Pick 20, the Eagles will be holding out hope that Hewett gets to them. A combination of Ginbey and Hewett in this draft would kickstart a midfield rebuild of homegrown talent that can learn under the tutelage of Shuey, Gaff and Elliott Yeo.

Adding to the speed of Jayden Hunt and Chesser could also be second-round Victorian option Coby Burgiel, who uses his one-touch ball skills and pace to burst out of congestion and maximise damage in the forward half. He’s been linked to the Eagles and would provide some much-needed excitement in the forward half after the departure of Willie Rioli.

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Expect West Coast to heavily consider crafty midfielder/forward Darcy Jones – who broke the all-time agility test record at the combine – if he makes it through to their second-round selections. 

They’ll also be keeping an eye on how far Olli Hotton may slide, who provides similar traits to that of Chesser with his speed and damaging foot skills out of the Dragons.

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