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West Coast Eagles

New Eagles determined to make their mark

Josh Smith press conference 28.11.18 Former Magpie and one of our new recruits, Josh Smith, speaks to the media for the first time in blue and gold!

West Coast recruit Josh Smith is determined to make the most of his AFL lifeline after fearing his career was over when he was delisted by Collingwood.

Smith played 32 games in three seasons for the Magpies but managed only one appearance in 2018 after tearing his hamstring twice.

The 24-year-old saw the writing on the wall when he couldn't break into Nathan Buckley's injury-ravaged line-up late in the campaign, and he faced an uncertain future after being axed by the Pies.

However, interest soon came from Gold Coast and the Eagles, who snapped up the strong-bodied utility in the NAB AFL Rookie Draft.

"The industry is so brutal now, and I kind of got the feeling towards the back end of the year it (his delisting) might be on the cards, just because the team was going so well and I wasn't playing and contributing," Smith said.

"It's a ruthless industry and I just rolled with the punches, I guess.

"The delistings and Trade Period went down and, to be honest, I probably didn't think I was going to get another opportunity.

"It all happened pretty quick – only a week or two before the draft (I heard from West Coast) – and here I am now, so it's been a pretty crazy couple of weeks."

Smith was thrown around in a variety of roles by Collingwood, but wants to use his running power to push for a spot on a wing at the Eagles. 

"I was playing round one at the start of last season in a side that made the Grand Final, so I certainly haven’t lost any self-belief," he said.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I could play senior footy.

"I played a lot of wing in my first year. I think I've been brought here for my running capabilities and outside game."

Smith was unveiled as an Eagle on Wednesday, alongside fellow rookie recruit Harry Edwards and Dandenong forward-ruck Bailey Williams.

At 195cm and 80kg, Edwards looms as a project tall and even the 18-year-old is unsure about where he will fit in West Coast's plans.

The Swan Districts product, who missed the NAB AFL Under-18s Championships due to a broken thumb and is on the comeback from a serious ankle injury, was a midfielder for most of his junior career.

However, Edwards has grown 10cm over the past 12 months and now needs to add about 10kg to hold his own at the elite level.

"I'm honestly coming in just to give it a red-hot crack," he said.

"I'm obviously a bit undersized and everything, but I didn't try my heart out this year to make an AFL list not to give it my best go.

"I expect to start in the WAFL side but we'll see where we end up, put on a bit size and see what happens.

"I'm a bit tall for a midfielder, but that's what I see as one of my strengths, I'm real versatile.

"Honestly, wherever I get put I reckon I can play so I'll just give it a go."

Williams, sporting peroxide blond hair reminiscent of 1992 West Coast premiership forward Karl Langdon, arrived in Perth a day late after missing his flight from Melbourne.

"I got pretty unlucky. I was there on time but given there was a fair bit of a queue at the airport I missed it by five minutes," he said.

The 18-year-old joined his new teammates at training on Wednesday and immediately showcased the athleticism which has drawn comparisons to Port Adelaide gun Paddy Ryder.

The 199cm and 97kg big man can't wait to start learning from his idol Nic Naitanui, who was among the first to call offering congratulations after he slid to pick 35 in the draft.

"He's obviously a freak of nature and a great bloke as well," Williams said.

"It's going to be awesome, he's probably the best person to work with."

With Williams joining fellow recruits Tom Hickey and Keegan Brooksby in blue and gold, the Eagles have addressed their big man shortage in the wake of Naitanui's second knee reconstruction and Scott Lycett's defection to Port Adelaide.

There were positive signs at Subiaco Oval on Wednesday as Naitanui joined in some warm-up exercises and completed some stationary ruck work as he aims for a return midway through 2019.

Senior players Jack Darling, Chris Masten, Nathan Vardy and Brad Sheppard were also back early for extra fitness work ahead of the entire squad convening on Monday for the first time since the flag triumph.