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Third year lucky after Redden's tough start

Jack Redden has hit career-best form in the past month - AFL,West Coast Eagles,Jack Redden
Jack Redden has hit career-best form in the past month

JACK Redden craved one thing when he packed his bags and headed to West Coast – team success.

The former Lion had only played in two finals, way back in his first season in '09, and saw opportunity for a sustained premiership tilt out west.  

The Eagles had just come off a shattering 2015 Grand Final performance against Hawthorn but their best years appeared ahead of them, and the tough midfielder believed he had plenty to offer.  

It's been well-documented since that things didn't unfold exactly as he or the club hoped after the Eagles handed over pick No.17.  

But nine rounds into 2018, Redden feels he's struck career-best form and the Eagles are flying, a game clear on top of the ladder after thumping Richmond.

FLYING HIGH Reasons behind the Eagles' rise

There is growing belief that something special is brewing and, while there is a long way to go yet, Redden's decision might pay off for him and the club. 

"Pretty much the reason why I avoided going back home to Adelaide was I thought with the list at West Coast there was a good opportunity for success," Redden told  

"It didn't pan out the way the club would have liked and personally my form at the start but I think the list is in really good shape and there's definitely potential there.

"But it's round nine (just gone) so we're going to put the lid on it and keep working really hard.  

"We had a really good win against the premiers from last year but there was still a lot of things we pulled out of that game we can improve on."

Whether Redden could step up after Brownlow medallists Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell retired was one of the biggest questions facing the Eagles at the end of a frustrating 2017 campaign.

The 27-year-old had found form in the back half of the year, and expectations were rising after Adam Simpson labelled him the best pre-season trainer.

But Redden began quietly, picking up 18, 17, 19, 10 and 17 disposals in the opening five rounds, before a breakout Western Derby performance opened a rich vein of form. 

Redden racked up 34 possessions, won six clearances and booted a goal against the Dockers, and has been in elite touch over the past month.

During the most difficult stretch of the Eagles' season, he's averaged 29 disposals and seven clearances, aided by a renewed focus on getting more bang for his buck around stoppages.

"It would be right up there (with my career-best form). I'm probably in that prime age bracket to really kick on and it helps that everyone is playing really well around you," Redden said. 

"I think I've found a better balance between hunting in and winning the footy at the stoppage. I was playing a bit like a wingman when I was inside.

"It's important you have everyone playing their role and clear on their role.

"You look back at the last two premiers, and they're probably not filled with superstars, it's the majority of the group buying in and that's what is getting success.

"We probably don't have any superstars in the midfield but we're all buying in and working together, which is getting results."

While Adam Simpson's men aren't getting ahead of themselves, they will be gunning for nine successive wins this Sunday against the Hawks, who the Eagles haven't beaten in Melbourne for 12 years.  

"They've had the wood over us for a while now," Redden said. "Hopefully that's in the past. 

"I think it's a different group at the moment. We're ready for this challenge."