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New deal means defender set to be an Eagle for life

Power talks as clubs meet, Cats' hard call, more Matt Thompson and Mitch Cleary with the latest news

WEST Coast has locked away one of the AFL's best and most versatile defenders, with Brad Sheppard re-signing for three more seasons.

Sheppard's new deal will keep him at the club until the end of 2022 and should ensure he remains an Eagle for life.

He missed out on playing in West Coast's Grand Final triumph over Collingwood last year after suffering a serious left hamstring tendon injury in the qualifying final victory over the same opponent.

Sheppard, who turns 28 in May, told the Eagles' website he was "absolutely rapt" to re-commit before the new season started.

"The club's shown a lot of faith in me in the early part of my career and I feel like now I'm an established member of the team," he said.

"I've got really good mates at the club and have a good relationship with the coaches (and) I'm really happy to be able to play at this great footy club for a further three years to take me into my 13th year.

"I'll be 31, actually, by the time I come out of contract next.

"I'm just over the moon, because one, we've got the new facilities at Lathlain (Park), I get to play at Optus Stadium in front of 50,000-odd each week and we've got the best fans in the League, so it was a bit of a no-brainer in the end."

Sheppard's first priority this pre-season was making sure he had recovered sufficiently from the hamstring injury that ended his season and cost him playing in West Coast's premiership.

 

"I've been counting down the days for round one and I'm really excited about this year, because I love playing footy and representing the club and putting on the guernsey," he said.

"It has been a long time coming since that day last year when I did my hammy, but I can't be more excited and more eager to get into the season proper and start it off against Brisbane, who have shown a lot of good signs this pre-season.

"It's going to be a tough challenge for the group, but something we're really embracing."

Sheppard, who stands 187cm, has established a strong reputation for being able to play on taller opponents while also being quick enough to be the Eagles' No.1 option to man the best small forward.

The 154-gamer placed in the top 10 in West Coast's club champion award, the John Worsfold Medal, in each of the past four seasons.