The all too familiar theme of injury marring a season also rang true for McGovern, who managed 15 games but was clearly playing under some duress on the run home.

It was revealed the four-time All-Australian required hip surgery late in the year and he missed the last round defeat in Brisbane while hoping the Eagles would win and qualify for finals so he could push his case to play.

McGovern started 2021 in good form commanding the back half before an adductor problem struck him down during the round six shocker against the Cats.

The 29-year-old returned and starred with 22 touches and 10 marks in the round nine win over Adelaide, but injured his knee and was sidelined again – this time for five weeks.

While the campaign petered out for West Coast, McGovern never stopped trying and some of his best performances for the year came in his final five appearances, notably the round 18 win in Adelaide (19 disposals, 10 marks) and round 21 loss to Melbourne (17, seven, three contested marks).

02:17 Mins
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Best of 2021 - McGovern

Our vice-captain battled injury through the year but still managed a solid season, often being asked to lead the side in the absence of Luke Shuey

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Standout performance: A thorn in Collingwood’s side

Under the bright Friday night lights in round five McGovern was once again the roadblock the Magpies couldn’t figure out.

In what was one of the Eagles’ best wins for the season, a host of players stood up and the stand-in skipper was among them, finishing with 20 disposals, 12 one percenters, 10 marks and seven rebound 50s.

He also pulled down five of his trademark intercept grabs as West Coast reeled the Pies in following their five-goal fast start to quarter-time and restricted the visitors to just six more majors as the side improved to a 3-2 win-loss record. 

Season averages:

Disposals – 16.4

Kicks – 13.1

Marks – 7.4

Spoils – 5.6

Rebound 50s – 5.2

2020 AFL statistical rankings:

6th: Intercept Marks (3.3)