Rebuilding Eagles ‘not waiting’ for AFL finals return

Justin Chadwick |

West Coast are on a fast track back to the finals, emerging midfielder Reuben Ginbey says.
West Coast are on a fast track back to the finals, emerging midfielder Reuben Ginbey says.

West Coast’s rebuild pain won’t last much longer, emerging midfield star Reuben Ginbey insists, with the Eagles determined to become a top-eight force as quickly as possible.

The West Australian side are hot favourites to collect a second straight wooden spoon after opening their AFL season with heavy losses to Port Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney.

With bright talents including Ginbey, Harley Reid, Elijah Hewett, Campbell Chesser, Brady Hough, Ryan Maric, Noah Long and Clay Hall all joining the club over the past three years, West Coast remain in the midst of the biggest rebuild in the club’s history.

There will be more pain to come, but Ginbey is determined to ensure success for the Eagles is not too far away.

“We don’t expect things to happen instantly, but they’ve got to happen some day. We’re definitely not waiting for it,” Ginbey told AAP.

“We want to become a top-eight side as quickly as possible.  

“We’re counting those small wins at the moment, but we play footy to get proper wins and come out on top. 

“We’re definitely striving for that.”

The Eagles will be aiming to snare their first win of the season when they take on the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.

The meeting brings a re-match of last year’s remarkable round-23 clash, when West Coast stunned the Bulldogs by seven points on enemy territory.

That result ended up costing the Bulldogs a spot in the finals.

Luke Beveridge’s side enter the match on the back of an impressive 48-point win over Gold Coast.

Although West Coast suffered a 65-point beating from GWS, a big plus came with the form of Elliot Yeo, who tallied 19 disposals and seven clearances in the first half alone.

“Having Yeo at full fitness is great,” Ginbey said.

“The things he can do with his strength and power and agility – he was awesome.

“Having that bigger body around the ball gives us younger fellas a lot of confidence to go in hard, knowing he’ll have our back.”

Ginbey tallied a career-high 22 disposals against the Giants to go with four clearances and five tackles.

The 19-year-old was largely used as a tagger in his debut season last year, and he’s enjoying the freedom of being a more attacking midfielder in 2024.

“I’m feeling better, feeling a bit stronger this year, a bit fitter,” Ginbey said.

“I’ve been able to run out games.

“Last year I was more defensive, just holding on to the better players. But this year, I’m looking to build an offensive game.”

West Coast premiership stars Liam Ryan (hamstring) and Dom Sheed (foot) will be pushing for selection in the coming weeks, but forward Oscar Allen (knee, 8-10 weeks), Hewett (foot, post-bye) and ruckman Matt Flynn (hamstring, 6-8 weeks) are much further away.