LIAM Duggan never expected West Coast would be flying on top of the ladder after 10 rounds when he signed a three-year contract extension before the season started.
But the 21-year-old Victorian didn't listen to the naysayers predicting doom and gloom either, and hasn't been surprised by the Eagles' ability to regenerate an ageing list while remaining in contention.
"You never expect to be at this part of the season and 9-1, but I think the belief was there for it," Duggan told AFL.com.au.
"A little bit was unknown, we had a pretty fresh list and were pretty young, but I think that's been a big factor in why we are going so well.
"Obviously it's only early in the season still, but we're in a good spot."
Since losing to Sydney in round one, West Coast couldn't have done any more to prove the doubters wrong.
The Eagles have reeled off nine straight victories, beating 2017 finalists Geelong, Greater Western Sydney, Port Adelaide and Richmond along the way.
They have also won all four interstate games so far, including three in Melbourne.
While the players and coaching staff are keeping a lid on the hype, fans are starting to believe something special is brewing.
The Eagles' last nine-game streak included the 2006 premiership triumph, and they haven't saluted three times in Victoria since 2015, when coach Adam Simpson guided the side to a shock Grand Final berth.
Last Sunday's grinding win over Hawthorn was a landmark for another reason – it was West Coast's first victory over the Hawks in Melbourne for 12 years.
While it didn't come easy, Duggan said the 15-point triumph showed the Eagles' new level of resilience and maturity.
"It's probably the best part about the season at the moment for us is that when we get a game like on the weekend against the Hawks when it's a bit scrappy, a bit dirty we find that way to win," he said.
"Then other times we've been able to run over the top with some pretty footy that we've got with our ball use.
"It's been a slight difference this year for us that we've been able to adapt.
"We've got certain things in place to adapt to those styles and whoever has come into the team has played a role for us.
"There's been no standout player, obviously we got a few pretty handy players back – Nic Nat (Naitanui) probably leading the charge there – but everyone who has come in has just played their role."
Duggan, who is one of the Eagles' emerging leaders, said acknowledging that complacency could creep in was the first step in West Coast avoiding a letdown against struggling St Kilda on Saturday night.
The Sir Doug Nicholls Round clash holds extra significance for the young defender, who is on West Coast's Reconciliation Action Plan board alongside Willie Rioli and Lewis Jetta.
"I jumped on when a little opening came about," Duggan said.
"Personally, I wanted to learn more about the culture and be part of it and more involved with it because I hadn't really before.
"It's been a great learning curve for me."
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