In a nutshell

A remarkable campaign culminated in the sweetest of West Coast's four premierships. The Eagles' resilience saw them overcome plenty of adversity, and they showed tremendous spirit to overturn an early 29-point deficit in an epic Grand Final.

What we said in the pre-season expected the Eagles to slide after finishing sixth in 2017, with none of our reporters tipping them to qualify for finals. There were questions about West Coast's ability to adapt to a new home ground and whether the midfield could compete with the league's best. However, the Eagles turned Optus Stadium into a formidable venue, going 11-3 at home, and an underrated engine room was outstanding, even after losing stars Nic Naitanui and Andrew Gaff. 

Have your say: Give your season verdict on the Eagles using the form at the bottom of this article.

What worked

Getting their kicks The Eagles transformed into the AFL's No.1 kicking team and that helped them adapt to a wider home ground and, crucially, the MCG.

Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan West Coast desperately needed ground level spark and pace in attack and the first-year forwards offered plenty, combining for 48 goals.

Playing a role Adam Simpson simplified things and got the best out of Chris Masten, Lewis Jetta, Jack Redden and Jack Darling, to name a few, while specific roles meant others were able to step up late after stars went down.

What failed

Nic Naitanui's 'good' knee The brilliant ruckman exceeded expectations coming back from 18 months on the sidelines, but heartbreakingly ruptured the ACL in his right knee in round 17.

Eric Mackenzie's feet The popular veteran was forced into retirement without playing a game in 2018 due to stress fractures in both big toes after everything medicos suggested failed to fix his issues.

Optus Stadium opening It matters little in 2018's context and feels like forever ago now, but the Eagles couldn't start a new era with victory over Sydney.

Overall rating


It was a hell of a ride as the Eagles proved the critics wrong time and time again.

The coach

Adam Simpson engineered a remarkable transformation, with the Eagles successfully implementing a new game-style and introducing fresh blood into the line-up. Simpson was rewarded with a three-year contract extension until the end of 2022 and the stunning premiership has confirmed his standing as one of the AFL's truly elite coaches.

Adam Simpson has emerged as one of the AFL's elite leaders. Picture: AFL Photos

The leaders

Shannon Hurn's captaincy was questioned before the season started, but the veteran half-back was simply outstanding in 2018 and earned his first All Australian jacket. His understated leadership fits perfectly with Simpson's style and their calmness kept the squad level during a rollercoaster season. Co-vice-captain Luke Shuey reiterated his status as a big-game player and the skipper in waiting.


Elliot Yeo: The Eagles needed Yeo to transfer his All Australian form from half-back to midfield, and he became an elite onballer, averaging 24.6 disposals and booting 14 goals. Could win back-to-back John Worsfold medals, but it will be a tight race. 

Surprise packet

Chris Masten: Languished in the WAFL last year and career was at the crossroads when he didn't play any JLT Community Series games, but was a surprise round-one selection and was reborn on a wing in 24 games.

Get excited

Liam Ryan: Ran into some off-field trouble but booted 20 goals in 13 games, and had some influential moments late in the Grand Final. Only 21 and could be anything as he matures.


Eric Mackenzie: The 2014 club champion revived his career in the back half of last season but his elimination final heroics were among his last acts as a footballer after he failed to play an AFL game this year and was forced to retire due to toe issues.

Best win

Grand Final: West Coast 11. 13 (79) d. Collingwood 11.8 (74)

The demons of 2015 looked to have resurfaced after the Eagles coughed up five unanswered goals to start the Grand Final, but they staged one of the all-time great comebacks on the biggest stage.  

Best individual performance

Luke Shuey, Grand Final v Collingwood

The brilliant midfielder was disappointed with his finals campaign but stepped up when it mattered most. Shuey kept the Eagles in the game early when many teammates looked rattled, and finished with 34 touches, 19 contested possessions, nine clearances, eight inside 50s, eight tackles and a goal.

Low point

There was an ugly fallout after Andrew Gaff's brain fade in the round 20 Western Derby, with relations between the WA clubs plummeting, and the star onballer missed the premiership triumph after being suspended for eight games.

The big questions

Will restricted free agents Andrew Gaff and Scott Lycett move on, and is Mark LeCras going to retire on a high?

Can Nic Naitanui return as the same athletic player after rupturing the ACL in his 'good' knee?

Do the Eagles have the hunger to contend again in 2019?

Season in a song

Don't Stop Believin' by Journey

Who's done?

Retirements: Eric Mackenzie

Delistings: TBC

Unsigned free agents: Andrew Gaff, Mark LeCras, Scott Lycett

How should they approach trade and draft period?

Shoring up the ruck department is list manager Brady Rawlings' most pressing concern, with Scott Lycett tipped to join Port Adelaide and Naitanui set to miss most of next season.

Early call for 2019

The Eagles' premiership window is wide open, and if they can cover the expected departures of Gaff and Lycett they should be challenging again next season.

Eagles fans: what's your season verdict?

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