Robert Walls has declared West Coast as his tip to win the wooden spoon this season. While many pundits expect the Eagles to slide, most betting markets have Gold Coast, Brisbane, North Melbourne and Carlton at the longest odds for 2018 Premiership glory.
Strangely Robert Walls has predicted Fremantle to finish in the top eight. On the basis they play 13 games in Perth this season. Only a single game more than West Coast will play at Optus stadium.
West Coast finished last in 2010. For the most part the club has been a regular finals participant including a Grand Final appearance in 2015.
While 2017 was mostly an in-different season, the Eagles still won 12 games. It will need a significant drop to enter wooden spoon calculations.
Last season the Lions claimed the wooden spoon with five wins. Which was the most wins for a last placed team since West Coast in 2010 who finished last with four wins.
Changing of the guard
The West Coast list underwent significant change at the end of last season. The retirements of Drew Petrie, Sam Mitchell, Matt Priddis and Sam Butler means the Eagles are no longer the oldest list in the competition.
Brendon AhChee has made the switch from Port Adelaide in the trade period. And the Eagles used six picks at the national draft.
On the eve of a difficult round one assignment with Sydney, a host of youngsters such as Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan are considered possible inclusions in what will be a very new look West Coast line-up in 2018.
Adam Simpson is well aware fielding a younger side will have its ups and downs.
“Our challenge is to keep it simple because we’ve got a younger list and a younger profile. But hopefully with that youth comes a bit more energy with the contest. And the ability to lock it in our front half is no doubt where the game is.”
Reason for optimism
After missing the entire 2017 season, Nic Naitanui will be a welcome return. And while patience will be needed, the Eagles are obviously a much better side with their star ruckman in it.
While a lot of experience has been lost, there is still plenty of star power with Jeremy McGovern, Elliot Yeo and Josh Kennedy.
Expect Brendon AhChee to be a regular contributor at AFL level. And there is still plenty of ball winning ability in a midfield that contains Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff.
Robert Walls premonition
I will concede it is unlikely the Eagles will play finals football. But they would need an extraordinary amount of things to go wrong to finish last and for the Robert Walls premonition to ring true.
In the words of John McEnroe “You cannot be serious.”