Luke Shuey and Tim Kelly share a moment after the R24 match between West Coast and Adelaide at Optus Stadium on August 26, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

SATURDAY night marked the "end of an era" for West Coast, with coach Adam Simpson proud of the way his team fought to send off champion trio Shannon Hurn, Luke Shuey and Nic Naitanui in the right way. 

While the Eagles ran out of legs late against Adelaide, they were competitive for three quarters in an entertaining match that saw the lead change 14 times before the Crows powered home to win by 45 points. 

EAGLES v CROWS Full match coverage and stats

Simpson, who will now wait for clarity on his own future, said he would have a lifelong bond with the retiring stars, who had defined the club's past decade and the 2018 premiership success.  

"These two men [Shuey and Hurn] have led this club for the majority of my time here, so there's a lifelong bond I'll have with these guys that I'm really looking forward to sharing with in the future," the premiership coach said. 

"[It's the] end of an era and it puts a full stop on it really, along with Nic who, while not having the premiership, has had the same influence on the club. 


"It's a sad story, but it's also it's a really good story for Nic and what he's done and where he's come from, so we can't forget him as well.

"We've acknowledged these guys really well, [but] we'll move on, like footy does, after next few days."

In emotional scenes after the game, Shuey was chaired from the ground by former teammate Josh Kennedy and premiership teammate Liam Duggan, while Andrew Gaff and Jeremy McGovern hoisted Hurn on their shoulders, with Naitanui joining them in walking off the ground. 

"It was brilliant to be able to share it with Luke and Nic," Hurn said. 

"We played 15 years together, something like that, so it's a big part of your life and your footy life. We became great mates, we worked together really well, and we've been fortunate enough to have some pretty good success along the way. 

"So to be able to share that was awesome. Really awesome." 


Shuey, who was excellent in his final game with 25 disposals and five clearances, said he had been waiting for the emotion of the occasion to hit him. 

His signature moment in the game was a brilliant running goal on his left in the first quarter after cutting through congestion and running inside 50. 

"There was 10 minutes to go still in the first quarter, so I wasn't really thinking about me to be honest. But my mates might have had a bit of money on me to kick one tonight," he said. 

The retiring captain said he was excited about the Eagles' ability to turn their fortunes around quickly and looked forward to watching the club's young core emerge in the next few years. 

"I think there's probably seven or eight guys on our list now who are going to play a lot of footy for the club," Shuey said.  

"You can lock that in and I'm looking forward to sitting back and watching them. 

"There's some flowers starting to blossom there and I can't wait to see them do their thing."


The Eagles drew their largest non-Derby crowd since round seven for Saturday night's match, with Simpson also receiving a warm reception from fans amid speculation about his future. 

While the coach was keen to deflect any attention towards the club's retiring stars, Shuey said the resilience Simpson had shown this season had been recognised by his team. 

Adelaide goalkicker Taylor Walker was the star on Saturday night, kicking nine goals to take a one-goal lead in the Coleman Medal race, with coach Matthew Nicks left smiling as his veteran forward's performance.  

"You get what you deserve, and tonight, I hope he doesn't mind me saying, he was sore. It's been a long year," Nicks said. 

"He's battled away, but I just sit there and smile on the bench sometimes with what he's able to do. I think he had 19 shots on goal tonight. So we'll just smash him for his inaccuracy."


Nicks said there was uncertainty about how the team would respond to its dramatic elimination from finals contention last week, but he ended the season optimistic about the future and believing the Crows were among the most improved teams in the competition. 

"There wasn't a lot of need for motivation this week," he said. 

"We've been really proud of the way we played our footy and we wanted to finish off and be proud again and walk out of the stadium tonight knowing we've given it our all.

"In the end, that's what we did. I think the guys walked off, embraced that big stage and feel really good about the performance we put out tonight."