West Coast finished the season fifth on the ladder and while they will start the finals at home, they will have to win three games on the road to claim the premiership.
Their first task is getting through Collingwood on Saturday night and they will be boosted by the returns of Josh Kennedy, Luke Shuey, Jeremy McGovern, Mark Hutchings, Lewis Jetta and Jack Redden.
With Nic Naitanui finishing the year as the All-Australian ruckman, Tim Kelly proving to be everything advertised and West Coast’s dominance in Perth, Gerard Whateley asked a poignant question on Monday:
“Have the circumstances of the year cost the Eagles a year in the premiership window?” he asked on SEN’s Whateley.
In response, Kane Cornes said he isn’t ready to write off West Coast’s 2020 hopes just yet.
“Possibly, but there’s a lot of other teams that have faced challenges this year. Most teams have been outside their environment for the majority of the year,” Cornes said.
“I know their home ground is the biggest advantage of any team in the competition, certainly the way they started the year, they didn’t attack it the way they should have.
“They went back home and looked like the hottest team in the competition, then they leave and we think, ‘oh geez we got sucked in there didn’t we’.
“I’m not losing faith in the Eagles. I look at the quality coming into their side and I think, 'what’s to say they can’t win four games in a row to win the premiership'?
“I’m not tipping them to do it, but would I be shocked if the Eagles did it? No I wouldn’t, because the finals experience that they’ve got and the quality in their side, their midfield, the number one ruckman in the game and a good forward line means I’m not going to be shocked if they go deep into this finals series.”
Despite West Coast’s struggles in Queensland this year, Cornes believes the players will be up for one last road trip.
“The way that it’s shaping up, if Port Adelaide lose, which I think most people would tip them to do, (West Coast) are going to go from Perth to Adelaide, so they avoid that Queensland situation and they’ve won big finals in Adelaide before,” he said.
“It might only be two weeks in Queensland and can you get yourself up for a Preliminary Final at the Gabba? I think you can sell that. There’s light at the end of the tunnel for these players who have been so desperate to get home.
“I think you can sell that given what’s at stake at the end of it.”