West Coast expects to have minimal involvement in next week’s national and rookie drafts due to a deliberate strategy to limit selections in this COVID-19-impacted year.
The Eagles currently hold three picks – 62, 86 and 91 – in the December 9 national player lottery, with the rookie draft the following day.
General Manager - Football Craig Vozzo said a lack of exposed form for Victorian footballers was a factor in the decision to focus on the 2021 draft pool, with the club bolstering its hand by securing a future second-round pick as part of ruckman Tom Hickey’s trade to Sydney.
“We’re expecting and planning only to take one or two picks this year, and maybe only one or two rookies as well,” Vozzo told 6PR.
“It’s not going to be a year where we’re going to do much in terms of numbers through the draft, and that’s been a deliberate strategy on our part given the lack of disclosed form of the Victorian pool.
“Our guys (recruiters) have been working off vision from 2019 for those guys as well as two ‘praccy’ (practice) games, so that’s always a bit of a concern so we’re going to limit our involvement in this pool.”
Due to uncertainty surrounding playing list sizes, premiership players Mark Hutchings and Nathan Vardy, plus mature rookies Brendon Ah Chee and Jamaine Jones, were forced to wait for clarity from the AFL before being recontracted by West Coast last week.
Hutchings was shifted to the rookie list largely for Total Player Payments reasons but the determined midfielder will be able to play next season without needing to be upgraded to the senior list.
“He’ll no doubt present in his professional way and give himself the very best opportunity of success moving forward,” Vozzo said.
“We don’t treat our rookie list players any differently to our primary list players anyway and they know that.”
Meanwhile, Vozzo provided an update on star onballer Elliot Yeo’s progress following an osteitis pubis battle that kept the dual club champion sidelined from the team’s last eight games of the season.
“He’s progressing slowly, I think is the word, but positively still but it is slow progress,” Vozzo said.
“We’ve had plenty of these (osteitis pubis cases) in the past, probably 80 to 90 per cent of them we’ve avoided surgery and 10 to 15 per cent we’ve had surgery.
“Our doctors are still quite confident that we can manage and get him right conservatively, and so that’s the path we’ve gone down and we’re confident that will achieve the outcome.”
Yeo will return to the club for 2021 preparations when the entire squad resumes training on January 6, while the first-to-fourth-year players will be back at Mineral Resources Park next Monday.