(Clockwise from left): Shannon Hurn, Oscar Allen, Harley Reid and Rohan O'Brien. Pictures: AFL Photos

Rohan O'Brien announced his departure from West Coast on Tuesday after 33 years involved in the club's talent spotting division, including as national recruiting manager and most recently as list manager. 

It's been a successful career for the popular stalwart, who has been involved in all four of the Eagles' premierships after starting with the club in 1990. 

While his most recent involvement in the decision to hold pick No.1 and draft young star Harley Reid could prove pivotal, there have been many crucial selections that highlighted his eye for talent, both under his watch and the recruiting and list bosses he worked with.   

Like all recruiters, O'Brien will leave the club with regrets about the players missed, the selections that didn't turn out for a variety of reasons, and the trades that West Coast ended up on the wrong side of. But the successes have helped deliver the club flags. 

Starting with the Eagles' most recent list moves as they embark on a rebuild, these are 12 of the club's best and most influential decisions during O'Brien's time at the club.


Oscar Allen – pick No.21, 2017
As co-captain and the club's star forward, Allen represents the future and is critical to the Eagles' next period of success. One of the game's most talented key forwards, the 24-year-old booted 53 goals in a 2023 team that won the wooden spoon and earned selection in the All-Australian squad. Given the Eagles opted for Jarrod Brander at pick No.13 and waited for Allen, this could easily have been a blunder if an opponent swooped. They didn't, however, and the Eagles have their next leader, alongside Liam Duggan

Oscar Allen celebrates a goal during the round 20 clash between West Coast and North Melbourne at Optus Stadium on July 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Reuben Ginbey and Elijah Hewett – picks No.9 and No.14, 2022
After more than a decade without a top-five selection, it was a bold call for West Coast to trade out its pick No.2 last year and bank on two young guns being available to it at No.9 and No.14. The early signs are that the Eagles made the right call, with Ginbey primed for a big second season, and Hewett showing explosive traits in his debut campaign. At a time when the club needed to maximise talent coming through the door, it got involved in the 2022 'mega trade' and came out with a win.    

Elijah Hewett and Rueben Ginbey celebrate a win during round two, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Harley Reid – pick No.1, 2023
Many expected the Eagles would repeat the trick in 2023 and give up the rights to Reid in exchange for a pick that would secure local defender Daniel Curtin and another young star. O'Brien was unwavering throughout that the Eagles planned to hold the pick, however, and he was true to his word, despite significant offers coming from North Melbourne and Melbourne. The energy Reid has brought to the Eagles already would leave them with no regrets.


Shannon Hurn – pick No.13, 2005
The first critical player in the Eagles' 2018 flag was selected 13 years earlier when O'Brien and the Eagles looked to South Australian Hurn and secured a future premiership captain. The standards Hurn set throughout his career of consistency and preparation left a legacy at West Coast and his performances as a rock in defence were vital through a period of success. 

Shannon Hurn leads his team out ahead of the R17 match between West Coast and Carlton at Optus Stadium on July 17, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Luke Shuey and Nic Naitanui – picks No.18 and No.2, 2008
One of the most important drafts in the Eagles' history, it took imagination to see the game-changing player Naitanui would become at AFL level, and the club used its prized pick No.2 on the local talent, ahead of fellow WA products Stephen Hill and Daniel Rich. In Shuey, the club was not afraid to use a priority selection on a Victorian midfielder so soon after losing Chris Judd, and it was rewarded with a Norm Smith medallist and club captain.  


Jeremy McGovern – pick No.44, 2011 Rookie Draft
One of the Eagles' best bargain finds during O'Brien's time in the recruiting department, McGovern was snared as a rookie from Claremont via Albany. He was a slow burn, too, spending three years on the rookie list before earning elevation and benefiting from the club giving him time to prove himself. It's an opportunity he repaid on Grand Final day, 2018.  

Jeremy McGovern in action during West Coast's clash against the Western Bulldogs in round 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Tom Barrass – pick No.43, 2013
McGovern's sidekick in the key defensive posts and another premiership player from 2018, Barrass has become one of the premier key defenders in the AFL after being snared with a later selection. Now viewed as the group's spiritual leader and with a role as vice-captain in 2024, he has played 132 games and has time to be part of the Eagles' next success.  

Tom Barrass kicks the ball during the R18 match between West Coast and Richmond at Optus Stadium on July 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Willie Rioli – pick No.52, 2016
A special talent who continued his family's incredible legacy in football and on Grand Final day, Rioli provided that bit of magic needed in the Eagles' 2018 premiership year. After shedding 15kg, he helped energise the forward line alongside a young Liam Ryan during his thrilling early seasons. His career then took a turn due to an anti-doping breach and the Eagles made no secret of their disappointment to lose him in a trade to Port Adelaide.   

West Coast players celebrate a Willie Rioli goal against Essendon in R15, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Ben Cousins – Father-son selection, 1995
The central figure in the Eagles' 2006 premiership era, Cousins was the star player who sustained West Coast in the years after its first two premierships. Remembered as much for his off-field troubles, the champion midfielder is viewed by some as the club's greatest player. Having trained with the Eagles' premiership players of 1992 and 1994 before deciding where to start his AFL career as a father-son player, Cousins chose the Eagles over Geelong and Fremantle and became a club captain, premiership star and Brownlow medallist. 

Ben Cousins celebrates after West Coast's win over Sydney in the AFL Grand Final on September 30, 2006. Picture: AFL Photos

Dean Cox – pick No.28, 2000 Rookie Draft
Regularly held up as one of the greatest ever rookie selections, Cox famously struggled through his first pre-season and dreaded time trials. But the Eagles saw something in the East Perth product, who become a game-changing ruckman who ran like a midfielder. Incredibly durable, the premiership star held the Eagles' games record with 290 before it was broken by Hurn. 

Dean Cox handballs during West Coast's clash against Collingwood in round 20, 2014. Picture: AFL Photos

Chris Judd – pick No.3, 2001
It was the prized selection that gave West Coast more than it could ever have dreamed, with Judd an instant star, a Brownlow medallist and premiership captain in his first five years. Having played his most dynamic football for the Eagles, he sought a trade home, and the Eagles gained Josh Kennedy from Carlton. Kennedy was vital to the club's next premiership in 2018 and became the club's greatest ever goalkicker. 

Chris Judd in action during West Coast's clash against Sydney in round one, 2007. Picture: AFL Photos

Glen Jakovich – zone selection, 1990
The core of the Eagles' early premiership teams were formed through list building concessions when the club entered the League, but Jakovich came slightly later as O'Brien was starting his career at the club. A champion defender who featured in both the 1992 and 1994 flags as a young player, he sits among the club's greats.

Glen Jakovich in action during West Coast's clash against Port Adelaide in round seven, 2001. Picture: AFL Photos