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AFL greats question West Coast’s playing style and call for off-season ‘upheaval’

AFL greats Jonathan Brown, Garry Lyon and Nick Riewoldt have questioned West Coast’s playing style and called for an “upheaval” of the brand that brought success in 2018.

West Coast’s season abruptly ended on Saturday when Collingwood upset the Eagles at home in their do-or-die elimination final that saw the Pies come away with a nailbiting one-point win.

Most of the footy world had labelled the Eagles premiership favourites during an eight-game winning streak earlier in the season, but with their finals campaign over the Fox Footy panel now believe a serious shake up is necessary at Lathlain.

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“Apart from the centre-bounce work, that’s really problematic,” Brown said.

“We know their set-shot goalkicking was terrific, but the rest of the game has got problems.

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“We’re looking at this team that won the premiership in 2018, are we overrating them? What’s their bottom six like and do they need to overhaul their game style, this kicking game style that won it in 2018?

“I think they’ve got a big off-season. Now Elliot Yeo was missing, he’s an All-Australian player but they need to do some work on their game style.

“They’ve been beaten at ground ball for far too long, they’ve got to fix that up because it’s an essential part of play.

Liam Ryan looks on after being defeated during the AFL First Elimination Final match between the West Coast Eagles and the Collingwood Magpies.
Camera IconLiam Ryan looks on after being defeated during the AFL First Elimination Final match between the West Coast Eagles and the Collingwood Magpies. Credit: Paul Kane/via AFL Photos

St Kilda great Riewoldt agreed with the 3-time Brisbane premiership player and questioned the sustainability of their game-plan long-term.

Ruckman Nic Naitanui’s return to form has been a big part of the side’s dominance during centre bounces but Riewoldt says a true premiership contender can’t completely rely on outliers.

“That wasn’t the profile of a great side, 19 per cent of their scores this year came from centre square bounce that’s the highest ever recorded, that’s not sustainable.

Former Melbourne great Lyon remained optimistic that the Eagles could push for a top-four finish in 2021 but argued that significant changes need to be made.

“That’s not a profile of a side that’s gonna challenge.

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