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Eagles poised for midfield reboot

Rhys Dickinson  October 12, 2017 12:45 PM

AFL 2017 Round 08 - West Coast v Western Bulldogs

Jack Redden came into his own towards the end of season 2017

West Coast list manager Brady Rawlings reckons the Eagles are in a good position to regenerate their midfield following the retirements of club legend Matt Priddis and AFL great Sam Mitchell.

Speaking to 6PR’s Sportsday WA team last night, Rawlings said the club would consider all trade options and scout the upcoming NAB AFL National Draft to fill the void left by the departing Brownlow medallists.

That process could start by securing the services of Port Adelaide on-baller Brendon Ah Chee, but the club still has plenty of work to do to bolster its engine room ahead of season 2018.

“We’ve sort of looked at it a little more with Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell retiring as inside mids that there’s going to be some really good opportunities for some of our midfielders on our list,” Rawlings said.

“We saw Jack Redden and Dom Sheed grow this year. We feel like they’ll get more time in the midfield, but we probably felt that we could probably do with one more as an option for the coaches.

“Brendon has been one that we looked at all year. He’s obviously played a lot of SANFL footy and just a handful of AFL games this year.  

“The other thing is that we are probably just open-minded throughout this period. We really want to be in a good position on draft night. With the retirements we’ve had, we see it as a really good opportunity to bring some youth in through the draft, but we’ll also be open-minded if anything jumps up over the next week or so.”

Looking ahead to next month’s draft, Rawlings said his recruitment team had been keeping an eye on several mature-age talents in addition to watching the nation’s youth strut their stuff across Australia.

He said the likes of South Fremantle’s Tim Kelly and Haiden Schloithe were on the club’s radar, as was Subiaco excitement machine Liam Ryan.

“I think the WAFL standard has been quite good this year,” he said.

“Obviously South Fremantle and Subiaco were two really good strong standalone teams and, obviously, Peel with the affiliation with Fremantle were strong as well.

“Things have changed a bit over the years in terms of teams’ thoughts around that with some guys who are 23 or 24 coming in and having an impact straight away at AFL level. I feel that a lot of clubs will go down that path a bit more now.

“Those three (Kelly, Schloithe, Ryan) have had terrific seasons. Obviously, when you’re looking for the best talent around the country, those sort of names are always going to jump up.”