The future is now in WA: Who are the Dockers and Eagles’ brightest prospects?
Securing a bright future is just as important as achieving immediate success in the dynamic AFL landscape.
Despite Fremantle’s finals charge in 2022 and West Coast’s premiership in 2018, Western Australia remains at the forefront of this conversation. Due to the decline in WA football in 2023, the spotlight is now on the young stars who are making waves among the more established players.
We’ll take a closer look at the future stars of the two Western Australian powerhouses, exploring underrated picks who might just hold the key to prolonged success.
From their 1987 AFL debut until their current low point, the West Coast Eagles have been consistent AFL challengers. With the 2023 draft came the best opportunity to bring in a generational talent since the 2002 “super draft” in Chris Judd.
In their futile attempt to put season 2023 in the past, West Coast supporters have found solace in Harley Reid. He is the key to the club’s objectives in forming a core group of big-name damaging youngsters with with the likes of Reuben Ginbey, Elijah Hewett, and Noah Long. It may be a long-term vision, but it is the Eagles’ stairway to the heavens again.
Clay Hall is one of the overlooked talents in West Coast’s recent collection of picks. In the preseason block, Hall has shown tremendous promise and versatility, but he didn’t get nearly as much attention as other high-profile prospects.
Tested at the WAFL League level with the Peel Thunder, Hall’s ability to see the play unfold moving forward is as good any draftee the Eagles have picked up. Keep an eye out since he is about to fly under the radar while the spotlight is on the big-name talents.
The Fremantle Dockers have been quietly amassing an impressive squad of youthful talent, while their cross-town rivals have stolen the show with a slew of high-level draft picks.
Fremantle possess a respectable mid-aged group owing to their performances in the later half of the previous decade. Among the youth, Matthew Johnson has separated himself. With Andrew Brayshaw, Caleb Serong, and Nat Fyfe – winner of two Brownlow medals – as frequent opponents during this preseason, Johnson has held his own.
The Rising Star nominee for Round 2023 appears to be firmly establishing himself in a Dockers group that is brimming with promise for years to come.
The Dockers’ 2023 draft pool was severely understocked due to trades made in previous seasons. Still, as the draft wore on, sliders began to emerge and at pick 33, they found Cooper Simpson. He injects blistering pace into a Dockers side which enables the runners to make a valuable impact on the outside.
After speedster Liam Henry departed for St Kilda the wing position became vacant, and Simpson has wasted no time rushing to fill it. He made a strong impression in the most recent match simulation, skilfully transferring the ball from defensive 50 to forward 50 with his pace. He is certainly one to watch for Fremantle fans.
Which group of fans should feel more assured going into the years of upcoming Derby action? It is a challenging question to pose.
Based on their performance in the 2022 finals, Fremantle appear ready for the near future. After winning the previous five derbies, the Dockers are sure to add to their record of victories.
For the Eagles, however, as they climb the ladder back to their accustomed heights, they will be ready and motivated to stop that record.
Some of the most riveting West Australian football matches are sure to be on the horizon in the years to come. The only question now is the number of premiership cups that will cross the Nullarbor.
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