Ryan Maric looks dejected after West Coast's loss against the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium in round three, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

A STRUGGLING West Coast team is being "easily" picked apart in a "really concerning" start to the season that does not bode well for the rest of the year, according to AFL Daily co-hosts Nathan Schmook and Damian Barrett.

Schmook, who covers both Western Australian clubs for AFL.com.au from Perth, spent time inside the Eagles' camp during the pre-season to understand the hard work behind the scenes going into the club's rebuild.

Having viewed 2024 as a "fresh start" after the club's "unprecedented" injury woes in the past two years, Schmook acknowledges the loss of key forward Oscar Allen and ruck recruit Matt Flynn has hurt the Eagles' on-field structure early in the year.

But he says the presence of most of the club's senior players in increasingly large defeats, and the team's difficulty in stifling opposition ball movement after turnovers, has him worried that they would continue to suffer more heavy losses.

"I look at the Eagles and I see the losses getting worse, I see the performances getting worse and I'm starting to get worried about how the season is going to play out for them," Schmook told the AFL Daily podcast.

"This season, week on week, I think they're getting worse.

"I'm one who likes to separate what's happened in the last two years and this year. I think they deserve a fresh start because the injury issues they've suffered in the last two years were unprecedented. The reason I'm worried now is I'm seeing performances without the same injury list.

"Oscar Allen and Matt Flynn were the two players they could least afford to lose, in my eyes. They are two really legitimate injuries that are really hurting them on field structurally. But elsewhere, they've still got a lot of their senior players out there and the things that are going wrong on field are really concerning.

"The ball movement issues, the skill issues, the kicking and handballing is really concerning for me. I just see a gameplan, and what they said pre-season is they are going to build their game around hunting the footy, being strong in the contest and getting the ball forward at all costs. But I think it's only taken three rounds to see that clubs can easily combat this. Clubs can easily get you on the rebound, get you on the turnover."


Schmook says the best gauge for where the Eagles are at will come in round five when they host Richmond at Optus Stadium.

The Eagles have the fifth-hardest start to the season in the competition, which has added to an already challenging predicament, and says the game against the Tigers will be a litmus test.

"One thing I'll say in defence of the Eagles is their first month has been Port Adelaide, Greater Western Sydney, the Western Bulldogs and Sydney (this weekend)," he said.

"There's a match-up against Richmond coming up after Gather Round ... I'm looking forward to seeing the Eagles against a team that is a little bit closer to where they're at, with Richmond being in a rebuilding phase.

"That's going to be a game where I think we can more accurately judge how this footy club is going, and how this gameplan built on contest and pressure and trying to get the ball into their front half stacks up. I think against top eight teams and definitely against top four teams, we're seeing already that it's not going to really stack up."

Harley Reid and Campbell Chesser look dejected after West Coast's loss to the Western Bulldogs in round three, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

AFL Daily co-host Barrett said the manner of the Eagles' three losses so far this season have him concerned about what's to come.

"I'm not seeing any form of improvement," he said.

"And you need to get your head around some of these damning stats - since the start of last season, the Eagles' average losing margin is 11 goals, 64 points. All 12 quarters played this year, they've lost. Their overall record in the last two years is five wins and 43 losses.

"These are historical lows already and to hear you say it's getting worse, I don't know where this club goes."