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West Coast Eagles

Best Eagle afield: Luke Shuey

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Luke Shuey of the Eagles and team mates show their emotion after winning the 2018 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the West Coast Eagles and the Collingwood Magpies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 29, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/AFL Media)
Luke Shuey was a deserving winner of the 2018 Norm Smith medal

Adam Simpson has espoused the virtues of his role-driven squad regularly throughout the 2018 campaign. That everyone in the team has a part to play.

It has rarely been more evident in this remarkable season than on Saturday in the Grand Final.

Whether it be defenders Tom Barrass and Will Schofield taking responsibility for Mason Cox and Jordan DeGoey or Mark Hutchings shadowing Steele Sidebottom, they all did their bit to get the Eagles over the line in a thriller.

While all of these 22 pieces combined to complete the premiership-wining puzzle, there was little doubt as to who the best player on the ground was. The judges of the Norm Smith Medal got it right: Luke Shuey was simply outstanding.

The Magpies elected to send their best negating midfielder, Levi Greenwood, to athletic powerhouse Elliot Yeo. That left Shuey to construct a masterpiece, the highest-ranking performance in the last decade of finals football, according to Champion Data.

The classy on-baller was ubiquitous from start to finish, amassing 34 possessions and three marks. An exquisite ball user, accumulating those numbers would always spell danger for the Pies and add to that a quality second term goal and he was the biggest single influence on the game.

But, as the old steak knives ad spruiks, there’s more. Nine clearances, six hard ball gets, eight inside 50 entries – the last of them coming in the final minutes when Collingwood was desperately searching for a passage to goal.

He intercepted an attempted barrel down the middle, marked it and then, using his football smarts, unloaded it to the pocket. From there the Eagles locked it away and won their fourth premiership in a five-point epic.