West Coast defender Tom Cole has declared he wants to help lead the Eagles towards a new era of success, after re-signing for three more years.
Currently working his way back from a long-term ankle injury, the 2018 premiership player has recommitted to the club until at least the end of 2025.
“I’ve signed a three-year deal with the club to extend my time here. It was never a tough decision for me - I was always going to do it,” Cole told westcoasteagles.com.au.
“This club took me in when I was 18. I’ve loved every moment I’ve had here and just looking forward to the future and a few more years to my career.”
Highly regarded internally for his ability to lockdown on dangerous small forwards and still provide rebound, Cole has become a key member of the Eagles’ backline.
The Bendigo product was part of the premiership team in just his 27th game after a breakout season as a 21-year-old, and then played 51 of the next 64 games before injury struck during a routine training session in February.
“Reflecting on my time so far. It seems like it’s gone slowly but then at times it feels like it’s gone very quick,” Cole said.
“I just want to be a part of hopefully more success in the future with this club.
“It’s been a bit of a tough year this year, but I’m getting older so I have to be more of a leader within the club.”
While Cole’s absence has been sorely felt, and compounded by All-Australian teammate Brad Sheppard’s retirement in December, he can see the silver lining of the club’s rough injury run has been the opportunities for others to emerge.
“We’ve got some new defenders in this year. ‘Houghy’ (Brady Hough) and Rhett Bazzo, who have been good this year so far, and we’ve had Jamaine Jones and a few blokes roll through the backline who have shown very good signs,” Cole said.
“I think we’ll be fine in the future in the backline. Hopefully I can plug back in there and get a game when my ankle gets better.
“The ankle is progressing well. It’s all systems go really. It’s up to the physios to create a plan for me to hopefully be back within somewhere between eight-to-10 weeks.
“I can start, hopefully, running in a couple of weeks and then from there it’s just how my body reacts, how my ankle reacts to that.
“I can’t start getting on ground and being around the boys a bit more, which will be fun.”
Cole’s re-signing follows another important player in the Eagles’ future – last year’s first draft pick Campbell Chesser - also committing until the end of 2025 last week