June 29, 2022 has the potential to be a landmark day in the history of the West Coast Eagles.

Tonight the Eagles recruited some highly talented individuals through the AFLW draft who could help put it on the competition’s map.

Combined with some exciting youngsters who joined the club last year – and some high calibre senior players – the Eagles could ascend to great heights. It may not happen immediately, but there is certainly cause for optimism.

After getting access to the most talented players out of the WA draft pool and securing Ella Roberts, Lauren Wakfer and Abbygail Bushby with its first three selections the club has significantly boosted its stocks.

Unlike the AFL draft where clubs can secure talent from anywhere around the country, the AFL ballot sees players nominate for specific pools. Roberts, a Margaret River prodigy who played in a WAFLW premiership with Peel as a 15-year-old, was long touted as the best prospect in the State.

Indeed, if the system was Australia-wide, she would have figured in discussions as the No.1 draft pick nationally. Highly skilled, twice WA’s MVP in the national 18s championships and able to play forward or through the midfield, she is a star on the rise.

The club’s second selection Lauren Wakfer, like Roberts, was rewarded with all-Australian honours after the national championships. While she will not play in the coming season because of a long-term knee injury it surprised no-one that the Eagles snared her with selection two.

And with the third selection – the last before Fremantle had access – explosive Swan Districts midfielder/forward Abbygail Bushby landed at the Eagles.

A neat left-footer with a strong competitive drive, Bushby looks to have the traits to succeed at the highest level.

Fremantle interrupted West Coast’s unfettered capacity to select the State’s emerging youngsters when they took Claremont’s Madeleine Scanlon with pick four.

And the Eagles, who received compensation through the draft after battling through the first three seasons, then continued to build their list.

Zoe Wakfer, the twin sister of Lauren, was the surprise final selection of the first round – and the fourth overall – for West Coast. Zoe, who was shocked at the announcement, is a key defender who will be looking to seize the opportunity.

At selection #5 from WA and 43 overall, the Eagles drafted tenacious Claremont midfielder Emily Elkington.

Just 157cm, she is a tackling machine and boasts explosive speed as well as outstanding foot skills.

With the next dip into the WA talent pool the Eagles ventured to Peel and drafted hard running outside midfielder Jaide Britton with selection #7 from WA and 47 overall.

Britton was WA 18s captain last year, has outstanding leadership qualities as well as a capacity to cover the ground well.   

The Eagles closed out their draft night by securing Mikayla Western, a feisty wing from Claremont who actually played a game for Fremantle last season as a top up player.

Each of the Eagles’ AFLW seasons to this point has been COVID-19-compromised and it has taken a toll with a large player exodus after what will become known as the first of two seasons in 2022.

The players who have now joined the club will add energy and class as the Eagles look to impact the season starting in August.

Even before tonight, the Eagles had started the process of replenishing its list, both through the trade and via priority access to senior players from State league competitions.

In one of the good news stories it re-listed Peel forward Kate Bartlett, who was on the club’s inaugural list, and then added Claremont pair Ella Smith and Sasha Goronova. In addition former Melbourne and Kangaroos utility player Emma Humphries made her way west.

Smith won the Dhara Kerr Medal as the fairest and best player in the WAFLW a year ago and was runner-up at Monday’s count.

Premiership Crow Jess Sedunary and Melbourne pair Krstel Petrevski and Isabella Simmons made their way to Mineral Resources Park courtesy of a trade.   

Add exciting youngsters – Charlie Thomas, Sarah Lakay, Beth Schilling, Courtney Rowley and Emily Bennett –who were drafted 12 months ago, as well as Bella Lewis, and the depth of young talent is beyond exciting.

Complemented by senior players Emma Swanson, Dana Hooker, Belinda Smith, Aimee Schmidt and Aisling McCarthy and there is good reason to be upbeat.