What I Love About My Team In 2023 – West Coast

Let’s be honest, there wasn’t a lot to love about West Coast’s 2022 season. Two wins. Covid. Injuries. Willie Rioli asking to be traded to Port Adelaide after supporting him through a suspension. That infamous nightclub incident.

If 2022 was heartache, I reckon 2023 will be the rebound. And like all rebounds, the season promises to have some joy in it for the fans of the royal blue and gold – but just don’t make any commitments to it and certainly don’t take it back to meet the parents. We may have to wait a couple more years for that.

But historically, West Coast supporters are a lucky lot. We haven’t had to suffer long bouts of heartache. A club doesn’t become one of the most successful in the league by staying down on the canvas too long. And as disastrous as the previous season was, there is a lot to love about the club in 2023.


  1. The new game plan

It might have won us a flag, but the kick-mark strategy became very hard to watch over the past few seasons. And what was worse was other teams had it worked out and actively mitigated it so our ball movement moved as fast as an application to council.

2023 is the year for speed, evidenced somewhat by a trial run in 2022 (before it all went to hell) and the recruitment of speedy players like Jayden Hunt, Elijah Hewett and Campbell Chesser.

West Coast fans can expect some fast ball movement, which will be a relief to many. While I can’t predict exactly what the strategy will look like at this point in time, it’s fair to speculate that they’ll use Hunt, Jones and Yeo to move the ball quickly out of the defensive 50 and try and push forward through the corridor to prevent teams from setting up. It should result in a better chance to score … and be scored against.

However, the caveat is it will probably look awful for a while as the team gels and aligns on the new style. It will also require some precise handballing and kicking, something that was in short supply last season. But that’s okay – it’s a step in a new and hopefully right direction that will see the club return to its powerhouse status before too long.

I know a lot of supporters have been critical of Simmo’s ability to adapt to changes in the game, but I think they are underestimating his footy smarts, his vision for the club and his ability to get staff and players to buy in. It’s why he’s taken the club to two grand finals in only nine seasons.


  1. They block out media noise

As every West Coast supporter is aware, there was plenty of criticism levelled at the club in 2022. And to be fair, some of that was absolutely fair. For a club that benchmarks the highest of standards, it was difficult to watch them struggle to only get two wins on the board, when the list (although in a transition) is capable of more.

Yes, fitness was an issue, effort was non-existent at times, and the game style was outdated. But some of the hot takes from the media were absolutely outrageous and you have to respect the club for following their own path and not listening to the likes of shock-jock “journalists” Kane Cornes and Caroline Wilson, who campaigned heavily to get Simmo the sack and start a fire sale that would rival Collingwood’s.

I’m not a fan of knee-jerk decisions and felt the club responded strongly to a poor season by acknowledging their shortfalls without completely blowing up the list. Sure, another season like 2022 and I expect Simmo to be shown the door, however, I am slightly optimistic about the Eagles in 2023. I am under no illusion that they will set the world on fire, but I expect them to start playing some watchable footy again.


  1. Rebuilds done right

I’ve been pretty vocal about Hawthorn’s approach to rebuilding. While I have a lot of respect for coach Sam Mitchell, I think their list strategy is a lit fuse that will go off in a few years and end Mitchell’s tenure. Moving on veterans for cents on the dollar and placing the burden on the youngest list in the competition will not help foster their development – it will harm it. You can’t develop a high-performing team and a great culture when you don’t have experience and leadership around to guide the younger guys.

Sure, West Coast held on to the hope of another flag for a season too long, but now they are finally using the “R” word, I’ve been comfortable with their approach at transitioning. Instead of blowing up the list and filling it with a bunch of kids, they’ve elected to keep some of the old crew on for a couple of years to get the young players up to speed with the AFL system and dumped a bunch of list cloggers who won’t take the club forward (sorry, not sorry Jackson Nelson).

I’m prepared to be wrong on this, but by 2025, West Coast will look much better than the Hawks.


  1. Astute drafting

There’s no denying that West Coast draft very well. Sure, you can reference players like Jarrod Brander as counters to this claim, but let’s have a look at the club’s choices in the last 18 months.

In 2021, the club selected Campbell Chesser, Brady Hough, Rhett Bazzo, Jack Williams, Greg Clark and took Jai Culley in the mid-season draft. We’ve seen a lot of Hough and Bazzo during 2022 and think they were both great pickups. Hough was an absolute surprise as he was one of the few shining lights in a dark season and I have a feeling that in five years’ time, we will be amazed that Bazzo went at #37.

If Jai Culley was in the 2022 draft, he would have easily gone first round – an outstanding win for the club as we got him essentially for free. He’s only played a few games and shows plenty of promise. He models his game on Patrick Cripps, so hopefully, he develops into a bull like his hero.

They backed it up again in 2022 when they infamously traded pick two for 8 & 12 and selected two local talents in Reuben Ginbey and Elijah Hewett. It seemed madness to people prior to the draft, but it now looks ingenious as they selected two great prospects that won’t ask to go home in a few years. Love the pick-up of Harry Barnett as a ruck too – can see the Crows lamenting that decision down the track.


  1. The calvary coming back

Let’s have a look at players that either didn’t play in 2022 or had extended periods off field – Dom Sheed, Eliot Yeo, Nic Nat, Jeremy McGovern, Tom Cole, Oscar Allen, Luke Edwards and Campbell Chesser. That’s a lot of talent to inject back into the squad in the next year. Out of the list above, the two I am most excited to see get back on the field are Elliot Yeo and Oscar Allen.

Yeo has had a rough trot the last couple of years with osteitis pubis and has struggled to get his body right. By all reports, he’s had a very good off season and has some confidence that he has finally got his body right. I am crossing everything that is true, because I’ve sorely missed the mad bull in action. West Coast are simply not the same team without him

Oscar Allen was put on ice in 2022 to help get his feet right, which was a great decision by the club. No point risking him when he has another decade left as a key forward. With Kennedy departing the club, it’s Oscar Allen, time baby! The spotlight will definitely be on him this season to see if he lives up to the hype. I really hope he does, mainly because I’m currently losing the argument of Naughton v Allen with fellow Mongrel, Alex Docherty. Even up the ledger for me, Oscar!


2022 was statistically the worst season in the club’s 36-year history. If you survived that with your loyalty intact, you’ll get through anything. But, as I have said previously, I don’t see next year being such a cluster-fudge. There will be some highs and lows and my prediction is West Coast will end up around the 12-13 position mark, restore some faith back to it’s supporters and provide something that felt a bit out of reach throughout 2022 – hope for the future. Go Eagles!



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