West Coast to avoid cull despite AFL flop

West Coast to avoid cull despite AFL flop

West Coast skipper Shannon Hurn insists there’s no need to make mass changes to the club’s list, despite the Eagles’ AFL finals capitulation.

Hurn is adamant the squad has the right mix of players capable of pushing for premiership glory next year.

The Eagles bombed out of this year’s AFL flag race following their shock 47-point loss to the Bulldogs in Thursday night’s elimination final at Domain Stadium.

West Coast were one of the hottest teams last year during their fairytale run to the grand final, with their defensive structure receiving widespread acclaim.

But 2016 was a different story, with the Eagles producing scratchy performances for most of the season before making a swift exit.

The nature of the Bulldogs left a host of Eagles players shellshocked and coach Adam Simpson said he couldn’t help but feel the season was a waste.

But Hurn claims the team doesn’t need to make drastic changes in order to contend for the 2017 flag.

Instead, improving the fitness and skill set would be a key focus during the summer.

“I don’t think we need to be changing the group,” Hurn said.

“I wouldn’t say it’s (a) wasted (year), because you can always learn something.

“But certainly as the years pass on, you realise you’ve got to make the most of your opportunities.

“If you can play good, team football, that’s what wins premierships.”

One area West Coast will need to bolster is the ruck.

With All-Australian big man Nic Naitanui (knee) set to miss most of next season, the Eagles need to find a mobile ruck/forward to complement Scott Lycett.

Greater Western Sydney’s Rory Lobb looms as an ideal target.

Fremantle’s Hayden Ballantyne could also be traded to the Eagles after expressing a desire to explore his options elsewhere.

The Eagles were heavily criticised for playing a team that was too tall against the Bulldogs.

Pinch-hitting ruckman Mitch Brown was included in the side at the expense of Lewis Jetta (calf), while Jonathan Giles and Lycett were the two main ruck options.

The trio ended the match with a mere 22 disposals between them, with Lycett clearly troubled by his ongoing left knee injury.

But Hurn played down suggestions the team selection played a part in the loss.

“I don’t think it would have mattered if we were tall, small, or in between. We just didn’t play good football,” Hurn said.

Lycett, who has battled a posterior cruciate ligament injury since midway through the season, is set to undergo surgery in the coming weeks.

Veteran defender Sam Butler, who at 30 is the second oldest player in the team, is set to receive a new one-year deal.

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