Reuben Ginbey has been the constant in a West Coast midfield that has pushed through an interrupted month, and stepping up to help cover young star Harley Reid this week will be a focus for the versatile onballer. 

Ginbey's impressive development in his second season has been one of the Eagles' undersold positives in 2024 as he builds out all aspects of his game and becomes a more effective ball-user in the pressure cooker AFL environment. 

With star Elliot Yeo missing back-to-back games this month, and club champion Tim Kelly bracing for another week on the sidelines with a hip issue, the 19-year-old's improvement has come at a good time and culminated in his best game of the season against St Kilda last Saturday.

Rotating as an inside midfielder and wingman who can go back, Ginbey said he had relished the added responsibility and was looking to keep his momentum going as the Eagles cover Reid and Kelly's absence against North Melbourne on Sunday.

"We had a good run with our midfield at the start of the year and 'Yeoy', 'TK' and Harley were on fire, but now with them missing games here and there, it's been really handy for me to have played the first full part of the season," Ginbey told this week. 

"When one of our best midfielders is out, it does put a bit of extra weight on your shoulders, which is a good thing, and hopefully it pushes me forward to play some better footy.

"Harley has been one of our top three players over the first 11-12 games, so I think as midfielder comes out, it does add a bit of responsibility for us to carry the load he's been doing, and I know another younger player might come in this week too."

Kelly (6.0 clearances a game) and Reid (4.9) sit only behind Yeo (7.6) as the Eagles' most prominent clearance players, with Ginbey ranked No.5 at the club behind ruckman Bailey Williams (4.8), who has shifted into a forward/ruck role after Matt Flynn's club debut. 

Ginbey had an equal career-high six clearances against the Saints, however, to go with 12 contested possessions and eight tackles and appears well placed to step into a more prominent role this week.  

The combative element of the midfield is where the Dunsborough product said he feels most comfortable as he settles into a consistent pattern of rotating on a wing and running hard defensively to help out the Eagles' backline. 

"I've found that clarity in my role amongst the team, doing the defensive things but also chopping out on the wing and using my run and carry," Ginbey said.

"So I think I'm just really settling into that role that the coaches have given me and I'm really grateful for that opportunity.

"The inside crash and bash probably comes most naturally, just getting the ball and flicking it out and also the tackles and pressure. But it's also good to relieve the body behind the footy and also on the wing."

A new element of Ginbey's game that has been particularly encouraging is the occasional moments where he has won the ball and used his speed to drive out of congestion before sending the Eagles forward. 

Doing that more often is something Ginbey said he had the tools to do, and it would come with confidence and better midfield positioning.

Ball use under pressure has been another key focus, with his efforts to improve efficiency under pressure paying off against St Kilda with an overall disposal efficiency of 80 per cent and kicking efficiency of 70 per cent. 

"I've definitely been working on my skill execution and ability to hold my marks when they're there, then also just having that composure with footy in hand and realising I have more time than I think to have the footy and then dish it off to the runners," Ginbey said. 

"At the start of the year I was probably rushing my disposals a bit, but the Melbourne game and St Kilda game, I felt a bit more composed and comfortable with the footy. 

"I think my form over the last month, especially at home, has been the best footy I've played against Melbourne and then against the Saints, I've been able to show a bit more of a mix to my game. 

"I still obviously bring my pressure and defensive stuff, but then also being able to get the ball and a few more clearances. Now hopefully I can bring that form this week and when we go away."