The future is looking bright for West Coast in 2022. (Picture: AFLW)

The future looks bright for West Coast in AFLW 2022, and a little luck with injury will go a long way toward a continued rise up the ladder.

The future looks bright for West Coast in AFLW 2022, and a little luck with injury will go a long way toward a continued rise up the ladder.

Last season:

12th (2-0-7)

Small improvements were made by the Eagles in 2021, winning one more game than their first season, and improving one ladder position to 12th.

These gains were made despite a horrid run with injury throughout the year. Only nine players played all nine games and two had to be replaced before the season had even started, with Demi Liddle and Katelyn Pope called on to replace Ashton Hill (still recovering from a ruptured ACL) and Mhicca Carter (foot) respectively.

The run with injury did not get much better when the season started either, with Dana Hooker missing most of the season with a foot injury sustained in a kitchen accident.

Key trade acquisitions Tayla Bresland and Aisling McCarthy missed four and two games respectively with hamstring and knee injuries. To top it off, ruck Parris Laurie also missed the final match of the season with an ankle injury sustained just before the game.

Despite the challenges, there were plenty of highlights. Club records tumbled in round seven against Geelong with the Eagles winning by 39 points and Imahra Cameron kicking a club-record three goals. Rookie-listed forward Grace Kelly led the overall goalkicking with seven for the year.

Two young stars received Rising Star nominations during the season, Mikayla Bowen in round five and Isabella Lewis in round eight.

Lewis would also go on to win the club champion award ahead of McCarthy, led the club in tackles, and was second for disposals behind only Bowen.

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Moments like this were among the biggest highlights of 2021. (Picture: West Coast Eagles)

What to look forward to:

With hopefully calmer waters on the injury front, the Eagles can continue the improvement in 2022 and two young stars will go a long way to help that.

In just their first and second years respectively, both Lewis and Bowen have stamped their name as two of the most exciting young talents in AFLW. Lewis won both best first-year player and club champion in 2021 while Bowen led the Eagles in kicks, handballs, overall disposals, and marks.

Emma Swanson returns as captain, and will be raring to go after a suspension ended her season early in round seven. Similarly will vice-captain Dana Hooker, who missed most of 2021 with a foot injury.

With a young developing list, there is plenty of potential for the Eagles this season, provided they get better luck with injury.

AFLW - Best Eagle afield: Dana Hooker
After a year on the sidelines, Dana Hooker will be raring to go in 2022. (Picture: West Coast Eagles)

The Eagles may have a new coach this season, but have also lured some talent from other clubs, giving Michael Prior plenty to work with in his first season at the helm.

Making the move across town is Evangeline Gooch, a former top ten pick for the Dockers in 2017. Gooch played 23 games for the Dockers across four seasons, averaging 8.6 disposals, 1.5 marks, and 2.3 tackles across that time.

With the potential for greater opportunity here at West Coast, she will be helpful to the Eagles defensive stocks this season.

Also joining is a returning WA local, Aimee Schmidt. Originally from the Coastal Titans in the WAWFL, Schmidt was a member of Greater Western Sydney’s inaugural team in 2017 and played 23 games in orange and charcoal before moving home and joining the Eagles as a free agent.

In her 23 games as a Giant, Schmidt averaged 5.8 disposals, 1.9 marks, 1.3 tackles, and kicked 10 goals.

With Schmidt also able to play in the ruck, the Eagles will no doubt relish the extra versatility for the side.

Biggest unanswered question:

With just nine players playing all nine games, and 27 players used throughout the year, Prior will hope for a more consistent 21 to choose from.

The question is, will it help West Coast be more consistent overall, and have fewer blowouts? Four out of its seven losses in 2021 were by five goals or more, with two in the last four being by 67 and 56 points respectively.

These lopsided results left the Eagles with the second-highest points against for the year, letting in 432 points at an average of 48 a game.

If the worst of the injury bug stays away, there may be a more pronounced improvement from the Eagles in 2022. But it may be another tough year for the girls in blue and yellow if the injury curse strikes again.

Isabella Lewis | AFL
The growth of players like Isabella Lewis will help the Eagles become more competitive in 2022. (Photo: West Coast Eagles)

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It’s a big year for…

The Eagles’ first draft pick, Charlotte Thomas, won’t have to look far for inspiration on how to make an immediate impact at AFLW as last year’s first pick, Isabella Lewis, was club champion.

Thomas was picked at number three, same as Lewis a year earlier. Despite a fractured arm ending her season after just one game for Subiaco, the impact was huge, with Thomas awarded best on ground for that one game.

Being able to play anywhere, she’s a great user by foot, and an astute decision-maker; music to the ears of the Eagles faithful. Thomas joins what is becoming a gaggle of talented youngsters in blue and yellow.

Raring to go after a year on the sidelines, Thomas will no doubt feature early for West Coast, and will hope to have an immediate impact as well.

Fixture highlights:

For the second year in succession, the Eagles face both Brisbane and Adelaide in the first month, however they will have the home ground advantage against last year’s grand finalists, which will be welcome early on in the season.

An early opportunity at a win comes in Round 5 against last year’s wooden spooners, Gold Coast, while the Eagles play Geelong, their only other win for 2021 (alongside the Suns) at GMHBA Stadium in Round 5.

The Western Derby in Round 1 will be played at Fremantle, and the Eagles will want to right the wrong of last year’s 10-goal defeat at the hands of the Dockers and attempt to get off the mark and win their first game against their cross-town rivals.

Full fixture:

R1: vs. Fremantle, Jan 8 (Fremantle Oval)

R2: vs. Gold Coast, Jan 15 (VU Whitten Oval)

R3: vs. Adelaide, Jan 22 (Swinburne Centre)

R4: vs. St Kilda, Jan 29 (Trevor Barker Beach Oval)

R5: vs. Geelong, Feb 4 (GMHBA Stadium)

R6: vs. Collingwood, Feb 12 (Victoria Park)

R7: vs. Richmond, Feb 19 (Mineral Resources Park)

R8: vs. Brisbane, Feb 26 (Mineral Resources Park)

R9: vs. Western Bulldogs, Mar 4-6 (Mineral Resources Park)

R10: vs. North Melbourne, Mar 11-13 (Arden St Oval)


In: Evangeline Gooch (Fremantle), Aimee Schmidt (Greater Western Sydney), Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco), Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder), Beth Schilling (Peel Thunder), Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts), Emily Bennett (Claremont)

Out: Mhicca Carter, Beatrice Devlyn, McKenzie Dowrick, Brianna Green, Alicia Janz, Demi Liddle, Julie-Anne Norrish, Kate Orme, Chantella Perera, Katelyn Pope (all delisted)

Round 1 line-up:

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Photos: West Coast Eagles, Design: Will Cuckson

Ladder range:


With still such a young list, it would be most unexpected for West Coast to qualify for its first finals series in season number three.

The talent is there, and they have shown their skills against a wretched run with injury and a constantly changing 21 already in 2021.

A little luck with injury could see more competitive performances and perhaps a few more wins under their belt.

Eagles fans should be keen for continued improvement and more competitive performances from one of the more promising teams in AFLW provided the injury curse doesn’t strike once more.

All eyes are on the future, and for the Eagles, the future starts now.

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