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Eagles take a step back to boost midfield stocks

Luke Foley went undrafted last year before being picked by the Eagles at number 31 - AFL,Draft,West Coast Eagles
Luke Foley went undrafted last year before being picked by the Eagles at number 31

THE suitors came for West Coast's pick No.23.

Holding the first selection on the second day of the NAB AFL Draft, the Eagles fielded offers for their prized pick overnight and ultimately sold it to the highest bidder – that being the Suns.

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For West Coast, such a decision was made at little cost. The Eagles didn't have to slide much further down the draft order to part with the pick, moving back only five places and still managing to bolster its midfield group with Xavier O'Neill (pick 28) and Luke Foley (31).

"We received a fair few calls," West Coast list manager Brady Rawlings said.

"The first pick the next day has a bit of value because there's so much time to weigh up offers from other clubs. Going into the draft, we always knew that was extra valuable because of the time you've got to assess your options.

"We had three or four really good offers for the pick. To slide back, it's a bit of a risky move in the second round, so we had to weigh all of that up.

"We thought the Gold Coast deal was too good to pass up on and we were hopeful of still getting the player we were going to take originally. Fortunately, it panned out that way."

Foley, in particular, was one of the draft's feel-good stories. A local product out of Subiaco, the 19-year-old went undrafted last year before working on his endurance and disposal as an over-age prospect this season to finally earn his chance on an AFL list.

He averaged 25 disposals per game in the Colts, also showing versatility to push forward.

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"It's been a really good story for Luke," Rawlings said.

"We've followed Luke really closely over the last couple of years and we've really liked him as a player. It was good to see him spend a bit more time on the inside this year and develop some different parts of his game.

"We thought bringing in some young midfielders with some run with our first two picks was really attractive for us."

West Coast was forced to match a bid on Next Generation Academy prospect Jarrod Cameron by Brisbane at pick No.39, with the Lions clearly keen to pair the diminutive forward with his older brother Charlie at the Gabba.

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However, the Eagles were not keen to see that eventuate, taking the talented small forward just moments after drafting 199cm tall Bailey Williams with a second-round pick.

"We always knew that Brisbane had an interest in Jarrod," Rawlings said.

"Clearly with the Charlie connection, they've followed him really closely, so we knew there was the potential of that coming.

"That was all the more reason for us to make sure we had three picks before a potential bid from Brisbane. We were able to do that in a trade, then we had the points to match a bid for Jarrod wherever the bid came."