The West Coast Kids Are Alright!/? Point/Counterpoint

Over the last 12 or so months, both Daniel Jon Kershaw and HB Meyers have had a playful but of banter over the quality of the younger West Coast cohort.

DJK has been rapt with the development and potential of the kids, whilst HB has been less than impressed.

After they yapped on about their respective opinions for the umpteenth time, it was decided to give these two a forum to air their views.

DJK goes first


In the words of The Who, “the kids are alright” at West Coast despite some commentary that the club is destined for years in the wilderness.  I know HB has opposing views on this matter, which I can’t for the life of me understand. Maybe he is more of a Fleetwood Mac fan because of the “little lies” he tells himself that West Coast have the worst youth in the competition. But as HB will tell you, maybe I have my blue and gold coloured glasses on.


Buy one, get one free  – Ginbey and Hewett

It wasn’t too long ago that fans and media alike were baying for blood when it was discovered that West Coast sold their first top 5 pick since Andrew Gaff in 2010 for picks 8 & 12. What were they thinking? Surely they could use that pick to get a great Victorian boy who they could sell back at cents to the dollars to a Melbourne club in the premiership window? Or better yet, overpay for Luke Jackson, who wanted to go to Freo anyway? Surely both are better options than picking up two highly placed local kids.

After limited minutes in the preseason, it’s looking more like a genius move from West Coast list management as both players could reach elite status in the years to come.

Reuben Ginbey has been compared to cross-town rival Nate Fyfe with his contested ball ability, strength and um … poor disposals. During the Crows pre-season game, he definitely passed the eye test with flying colours, going in hard for the ball and racking up some decent numbers while he was at it. From all reports, he has impressed club staff and senior players with his work ethic, skills and tenacity, which were all on display in the Crows game. Surely, a lock for Round One against North Melbourne.

Although doubtful to join his teammate in Round One, Elijah Hewett has all the makings of a future superstar. West Coast supporters may have thought they’d travelled back in time and were watching Judd when, during the Port preseason game, he dashed through a stoppage to collect the ball and snap a goal. It was a moment of brilliance that put his footy ability on display. The main criticism levelled at Hewett when being scouted was his consistency on field – despite showing his explosiveness in the midfield, his toughness and his footy smarts, he hasn’t been renowned for putting it all together for 4 quarters of a game. I am pretty optimistic that will change over the next couple of years and he will become a menace to opposition teams as well as a fan favourite.

On an aside, I would have to cast aspersions on my own club, but can’t help notice that Hewett was very much in the frame for top three in the draft before stories circulated about his behaviour at school. I’m not saying there was draft tampering, just that it was very convenient for West Coast that he was a draft slider.


Classy Chesser

One thing I like about West Coast’s drafting strategy is their risk-averse policy of avoiding Melbourne city kids or metropolitan kids, in general. They know they are the most likely to put up their hands about wanting to go home – phenomena less seen in country kids who probably see a move out of rural Australia to a city across the country as an adventure.

Hailing from the country, Chesser is another player projected high in the draft who slid in estimations due to a knee injury. Known for his clean foot and hands as well as running ability, Chesser is a classy player who will quickly cement his spot on the wing. Expect him to debut alongside Ginbey and Hunt in Round One.


To favour Culley 

Another Victorian country kid. I am a massive fan of the way Jye Culley goes about it – he is literally the definition of manifest destiny when, after not getting drafted in 2021, worked his ass off to get picked up at the midseason draft.

Down to earth, models his game on Cripps and Bont, a tackling beast – what’s not to like about Culley? He’s put on a fair bit of size over the break and I think he will cement his spot in the 22 as a hard-nosed beast in the midfield who gets the job done – and a perfect replacement for Redden who unexpectedly called it quits at the end of last season.


Other kids I like the looks of

Hough – got a real good look when given the opportunity last year when most of the team were unavailable. Played 15 games and looked at home on the wing/half-back. I vividly remember some great ball movement into the forward 50 and also rebounding out of defence. The logical replacement to Gaff in a few years. Reckon he’s the 23rd man up and will see a bit of footy this year when injuries creep in.

Bazzo – In years to come Bazzo will be considered a steal at pick 37. Has the making of a solid defender, but unfortunately will find it difficult to break through this season with the quality down back for West Coast. Regardless, I would still love to get games into him to get him ready to replace Hurn and McGovern.

Jamieson – I’ve held out high hopes for Bailey Williams – but I am starting to concede that perhaps he isn’t up to the standard West Coast need. With Nic Nat and Williams both in doubt for Round One, it’s Callum Jamieson’s time to shine now. Although very raw, I have really enjoyed his aggression and second efforts at stoppages and hope he can fill the role of the second big man.


Final thoughts 

Even though HB will try draw a very long bow on why West Coast’s future will look bleak and probably do a very good job at it, I am confident the future looks bright for the boys in the west. All they need to do is get some game time into their kids, manage their fitness and let the veterans impart some wisdom before they hang up their boots.

I don’t agree with Will Schofield’s prediction West Coast will make top eight this year, but think the Eagles will definitely be on the rise by 2025 and contending by 2026.


And now, over to that grumpy old slapper, HB, to argue the opposite.




Heads up – it is my job here to be harsh. It is my job to talk down the crop of youngsters at West Coast and refute the adulation showered on them from my opposite number. It is not a personal vendetta against your club – don’t be so touchy. This section is the yin to DJK’s yang you read above, the Kevin Hart to his Dwayne Johnson, the Sami Zayn to his Roman Reigns.

And, as a result, I might say things a few of you don’t want to hear. I’ve earned your wrath before… it’s that time again, seemingly.

Ah yes, the magical West Coast kids – sure to pick this team up and make them finalists again in no time, right?

My friend and colleague, Daniel Jon Kershaw, would have you believe that the Eagles have hit the jackpot recently, able to pick up kids with late draft picks or mid-season selections that are bound to become stars of the game. I must take a moment to point out – he is a West Coast tragic; there is not a lot they can do wrong in his eyes and his justification of their recent all-in tilt at one more flag, at the expense of blooding kids proves that.

But how wrong have they got it, and can this next group of kids aged 22-and-under be the class that says “shut up HB, you don’t know what you’re talking about”?

Let’s have a look at last week’s practice game as an indicator, shall we?

Oh yes… we shall.

Of the youngsters that were able to get a run, the obvious standout was Reuben Ginbey, who looks ready-made. I had to laugh when DJK messaged me stating “imagine having to argue that Ginbey is shit!”

It’s a good point – he’s not. Evidently.

Taken in the 2022 draft, he reminded me of a stronger version of first-year Xavier Duursma at Port, tucking the footy under his arm and taking the game on, whilst others have called him a next-generation Nat Fyfe. No pressure, kid. He played from the first bounce, which was great to see, as it indicates that Adam Simpson would be looking at him as a potential Round One debut. After his efforts against Adelaide, he’ll be hard to ignore.

Now… who else started that game on the field, or as one of the early interchanges from the 22-and-under cohort?

Let’s see…just running down the lineup, here… Hurn…. Duggan… Sheed… Kelly… Waterman, Petruccelle… hmmm, only Campbell Chesser, Xavier O’Neill, and Callum Jamieson made it onto the park to start the game, and I don’t think there would be any argument that Jamieson would not have got that position if not for injury to the big fella with dreads.

Interesting, as I was led to believe that the Eagles had this abundance of young talent that was going to springboard them back into contention for the finals this season, according to Will Schofield. Maybe they got lost on the way to the game, or something? There was no Jai Culley, who I am assured would have been a high 2022 draft pick had he not been snapped up in the mid-season edition.

Isiah Winder was off doing something or other, Rhett Bazzo was absent due to personal circumstances, Luke Edwards was nowhere to be seen, nor was Bailey Williams. I was especially disappointed not to get a look at Harry Edwards, as he seems like a capable defender.

Looking across the park from them, the Crows had Izak Rankine, Sam Berry, Luke Pedlar, Josh Rachele, Nick Murray, Jake Soligo, and Patrick Parnell all fitting the age bracket we’re talking about. All of them started as best-23 players.

That is a good crop of kids. No further hype required, thank you very much. They also had Harry Schoenberg come off the bench later in the game, as did Michael Michalanney

The fact that these reported stars of the future at West Coast were few and far between when it came to the last hit out before the season doesn’t bode well. If you are a team that is destined to sit in the bottom ten teams, wouldn’t you want to be getting as much experience into this next group of kids that will be spearheading your push for the next successful West Coast era?

I sure as hell would, but instead of that, we got the same group of players that have sat out dozens of games over the last couple of seasons, basically because they’re old, out on the park and losing to a Crows team with more youth than they had.

Tell me again how great these kids are. I really want to know, because as a collective, I have not yet seen it. If they were as good as DJK states, would they not have been littered throughout the field in this game, pushing their claims for Round One selection? Would Brady Hough not have occupied a wing? If not, why the hell not?

In their defence, I like what I have seen from Brady Hough, Campbell Chesser will undoubtedly be a good player, Rhett Bazzo will be a solid defender, and Elijah Hewett has some huge wraps on him. So, I am willing to concede that the Eagles have four or five kids that could be excellent. The four listed above, as well as Ginbey. And the sample size for three of those blokes is minuscule.

Outside that, however, I reckon this mob need two more really solid drafts and a free agent or two in order to bolster their top-end numbers.

At this time of year, hope sells. We all know that. West Coast are seemingly in a time warp where they are attempting to set up for their future by playing those from their past. Whilst I am sure DJK has argued brilliantly that “potential” and “ceilings” are both very high, mainly because he wants them to be, I am the little man on your shoulder, telling you what you really don’t want to hear.

As it stands, the Eagles have one successful-looking draft – the 2022 one, and we are going pretty early on that, too. They have retained veterans that will take up space the kids could have, and should have already occupied and will once again slow down a process that should have begun a while back. If the team gets a diamond in the rough coming through by way of clever drafting, I am happy to eat my words, but as it stands, this team is devoid of genuine 22-and-under stars outside the five I listed above.

And the road back to sustained success is not paved with the blood, sweat and tears of an ageing group of champions who will not be there to see it. If it were going to be paved by the great kids coming through, and they were as good as DJK says, the club would have the best 23 in practice games choc-full of them.

They didn’t, so what does that say about where they’re truly at?

Hope does sell… but you’ve still got to find a buyer.



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