West Coast coach Adam Simpson has labelled 2023 "a season of growth" for his struggling Eagles, stating that while the year fell below expectations it has managed to conjure resilience within his group.

The Eagles finished last on the ladder with three wins from 23 matches, suffering 16 defeats of 40 or more points during a horrid year that followed a two-win campaign in 2022.

A 16-game winless run marred the middle of Simpson's season at the helm, with questions raised over the premiership coach's future with the club despite his contract status for the 2025 season.

West Coast came to the defence of their battled coach on multiple occasions, showing faith in the long-serving mentor while a wave of changes would take place throughout the club's football department and hierarchy that surrounded him.

Simpson believes his players and the club can "draw a degree of resolve" from arguably the club's worst year in their existence, with the Eagles coach speaking on his mixed emotions following an arduous year for the royal blue and gold.

"Adversity can breed resilience and at our club in 2023 that was certainly the case," Simpson wrote in a reflection on the year that was, via westcoasteagles.com.au. 

"The challenges we faced throughout the year were not planned, but as we work towards emerging out the other side the experiences of the last two years can hold us in good stead.

"Obviously you would prefer to avoid this trough, but you can draw a degree of resolve from it.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MAY 17: Adam Simpson, Senior Coach of the Eagles coach addresses the team at three quarter time break during the 2019 AFL round 09 match between the West Coast Eagles and the Melbourne Demons at Optus Stadium on May 17, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos)

"We expected much more going into the season and while obviously disappointed with the on-field results, with just three wins I was also quite proud of the way we stuck together and did not fracture despite the pressure.

"In many respects it was a season of growth. That might sound contradictory given a three-win season but I am confident the experiences can galvanise us as we progress and set about the task of climbing up the ladder.

"This climb will take time, but the foundations of our rebuild are in place and we're as united as ever in tackling the challenges head on."

The Eagles underwent mass changes to their squad as they continue to work through a list rebuild under Simpson, with West Coast bidding farewell to a trio of club greats in Luke Shuey, Shannon Hurn and Nic Naitanui to retirement.

A further six players would not be offered new deals for 2024 to see the club's list of departures reach 26 players since the end of the 2021 season.

The changes have allowed the Eagles to inject a plethora of youthful prospects and talent into their squad for the long haul, with recent No.1 pick Harley Reid headlining the club's new additions.

Fellow first-round picks Reuben Ginbey and Elijah Hewett showed plenty of promise in their debuts seasons this year to offer some positive to a difficult season, while the Eagles were able to add some experience to their squad through the recent trade and free agency windows.

"There has been a noticeable transition on our senior list with almost 30 players departing the club for one reason or another over the last three years and we have brought in an exciting group of young players who will be the key to navigating our club forward," Simpson added.

"Within the group of 30-odd departures were also some of the club's great players, including three outstanding individuals who retired at the back end of this year.

"They don't come more highly credentialed than premiership captain Shannon Hurn, Norm Smith medallist Luke Shuey and generational ruckman Nic Naitanui. Obviously they will be deeply missed but that is an unfortunate yet unavoidable part of the elite football cycle.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Eagles head coach Adam Simpson and Shannon Hurn of the Eagles hold up the premiership cup after their win during the 2018 AFL Grand Final match between the Collingwood Magpies and the West Coast Eagles at Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 29, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/AFL Media/Getty Images)

"We look forward to being able to call on their knowledge and experience as we move forward. Luke will continue to have an official involvement as stoppage coach and our young group are fortunate to be able to continue to lean on him.

"On several occasions during the year, I said we would get really young really quickly and we have lost three of our elder statesmen – Bunga as our games record holder (333), Boots (248) who fell just short of the 250-game mark and Nic who finished on 213 games.

"For the third year in succession we have gone to the draft while also bringing in some players from other clubs who we believe can assist our resurgence.

"It will be exciting to see those young players evolve. We're embracing the journey we're on and we look forward to our members and supporters joining us."

Simpson's coaching record remains positive despite three successive losing seasons and just five wins in the club's past two campaigns, with the North Melbourne great winning 119 of his 226 games in charge.

West Coast's 2024 campaign - which will be Simpson's 11th season as coach - will commence with an away trip to face Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Sunday, March 17.

The Eagles will return to Optus Stadium the following week, hosting GWS to conclude Round 2's proceedings.