Eagles’ McGovern full of praise for Yeo and The Duck

Justin Chadwick |

Ultra-competitiveness is what sets Elliot Yeo (centre) apart for West Coast, Jeremy McGovern says.
Ultra-competitiveness is what sets Elliot Yeo (centre) apart for West Coast, Jeremy McGovern says.

West Coast defender Jeremy McGovern rates Elliot Yeo his first-choice midfielder, saying the veteran’s ultra-competitiveness is what sets him apart.

Yeo will notch his 200-game milestone when he lines up in Saturday night’s AFL clash with Essendon at Optus Stadium in Perth.

Three and a half years of injury setbacks left experts and fans wondering whether Yeo could ever get back to his best.

But the 30-year-old is finally injury-free and in the form of his life, averaging a career-high 8.1 clearances and 25.1 possessions across his first seven games of 2024.

Yeo is also averaging 5.9 tackles per match and has kicked 5.6, with the veteran combining brilliantly with No.1 draft pick Harley Reid to turn West Coast’s midfield into a strength.

“He’s reminded a lot of people about how good a footballer he is, and how much his body let him down the last few years,” McGovern said of Yeo.

“He’s been massive for us this year. He’s always been a top two or three player in our team since I’ve played with him.

“I’m stoked for him to get to 200. I’m sure he’s got plenty more in him.”

McGovern is a big admirer of the way Yeo drives high standards at West Coast.

“His ultra-competitiveness is what sets him apart,” McGovern said.

“He’s aggressive. He gets a bit grumpy sometimes, which we love.”

Yeo can also play as a defender or a shut-down midfielder while winning plenty of the ball himself, highlighting his impressive versatility.

McGovern said Yeo would be his No.1 choice if he had to pick the AFL’s best midfielder.

“It’s very hard to compare midfielders and players in the competition. But for us, I’m picking (Yeo) first. I’m glad he’s on my team,” McGovern said.

Another player in career-best form for the Eagles is Jake Waterman, who has kicked 15 goals across the past three weeks to bring his tally to 21 for the season.

The 25-year-old’s red-hot form has earned him a new nickname.

“We’re calling him ‘The Duck’ at the moment – he’s flying,” McGovern said.

“He’s got more opportunity with Oscar (Allen) not there and he’s grabbing it with both hands.”

Reid was rested for last week’s 37-point loss to Gold Coast in what McGovern believes was a smart move.

“It was the right time for him to go home and have a break,” McGovern said.

“He needed a bit of a spell, and the club managed that really well.

“Hopefully we’ve got him for the rest of the year now.”

Reid, Tom Barrass (suspension) and Noah Long (hip) are all set to return against the Bombers.