Aaron Naughton during the 2022 AFL Round 1 match between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

While the Eagles were hesitant to label their list planning as a rebuild, it seems as though the Perth powerhouse will be placing its attention toward the future rather than looking to fight for a flag in 2023.

West Coast have attacked the draft the past 12 months to give themselves the best chance of returning to the premiership race sooner rather than later, but it must be said there are still several areas Adam Simpson would be keen to mend while he's still behind the wheel.

The Eagles are home to a star-studded engine room, which was only bolstered further in the draft this off-season with the acquisitions of first-round draftees and local pair Reuben Ginbey and Elijah Hewett.

In a situation where West Coast could 'steal' one rival player without worrying about contracts or salary caps, we ponder who they might consider.

This exercise looks at the list needs for the Eagles and four players they might consider plucking from their rivals, while we reach a verdict on who their dream recruit would be.

List needs

Key position areas are a clear list need for the Eagles, who are needing to find replacements among their ruck stocks, forward line and defensive cohort as they build toward the future.

The Eagles lost Josh Kennedy and Jack Redden to retirement, have Shannon Hurn and Jeremy McGovern nearing the end of their respective careers, and saw Junior Rioli depart to Port Adelaide this off-season, among other changes.

The loss of Kennedy means there's a sizeable hole in the Eagles' forward third, with young tall Oscar Allen seen as his likely successor.

Jack Darling will help man the forward line but has already passed the 30-year barrier, meaning younger reinforcements among West Coast's tall targets might be an area they place their focus.

Allen can also be swung into the defence and utilised as a ruckman, however his best position is as a forward target. Someone that can perhaps alleviate Allen's requirement to play away from the forward third might be ideal, whether that be a forward that can also share the ruck workload or just another key-position attacking option altogether.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 23: Josh Kennedy of the Eagles (L) and Jack Darling of the Eagles celebrates a goal during the round five AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the West Coast Eagles at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 23, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The Eagles have also seen some of their spark in attack stripped away, with Rioli's departure leaving the ground-level work to Jamie Cripps and Liam Ryan from next year.

A young and exciting small forward might just be the ideal target for the Eagles, who were quite reliant on Rioli and Ryan in their premiership campaign four years ago.

Lastly, when looking to build the foundations of their list revamp, another key defender might be where West Coast look, potentially finding a successor for McGovern.

Tom Barrass did a stellar job this year as McGovern battled injury, with the senior backman now looking to hand the baton to his younger partner.

Below we assess four rival players the Eagles would love to 'steal' to fill one of the list needs assessed above.



1. Aaron Naughton

A Western Australian native, Naughton would pair nicely with emerging key-position talent Oscar Allen in attack, with the high-flying Bulldog a successor for premiership veteran Jack Darling.

Darling isn't likely to be part of the Eagles' next premiership push, while the loss of Josh Kennedy to retirement means further attention turns toward Allen.

Naughton is arguably the best young key forward in the AFL, with 2022 seeing the 23-year-old boot over 50 goals for the first time in his raw career.

If he were to slot into the Eagles' attack, Adam Simpson would have a lethal tall forward pairing that could dominate the league for the next decade.

Also boasting the ability to play in defence, the Eagles could fill multiple roles flagged above with the acquisition of Naughton.