West Coast great Andrew Embley has named a surprise contender to become Luke Shuey’s successor.
The 2006 Norm Smith medallist believes Liam Duggan should be the Eagles’ 16th leader in its rich 34-year history, following his breakout 2020 campaign.
The 24-year-old finished fifth in the club’s fairest and best after not only producing a prolific season in the backline, but also proving his worth when moved to the midfield.
“Liam Duggan I rate really highly. I think he will be West Coast’s next captain,” Embley said on Triple M’s Rush Hour.
“I think he’s a very quality player, (he) had a good year last year.”
A hamstring injury to premiership tagger Mark Hutchings saw Duggan deployed in the midfield after half-time against the Bulldogs in round 16 last year.
Despite not featuring in the guts since under-age footy he passed the audition with flying colours, racking up 18 touches at 89 per cent efficiency.
Duggan was again pushed into the engine room for West Coast’s thrilling 15-point victory over St Kilda the following round, as a deep injury crisis saw five first-choice premiership mids sidelined.
With Shuey, Elliot Yeo, Hutchings, Jack Redden and Dom Sheed all absent, it gave Duggan the chance to shine with nearly 400metres gained as he tallied 15 disposals.
As Yeo continues to be sidelined with osteitis pubis, Duggan is preparing to feature in the middle during the season’s early stages.
Embley believes that move could provide the missing link in the chain as they chase their second premiership in four years.
“I still like him across half-back but he has been training with the midfield group a little bit,” Embley said.
“So with Elliot Yeo not expected to play in the first four of five games, maybe it’s Liam Duggan who comes in to give West Coast a different look through that midfield.
“For mine at the moment, the chemistry is not really working. Yeo is that kind of midfielder West Coast really need.
“He’s strong in the contest, he’s really good at being able to nullify some of the best opposition mids whilst allowing players like Shuey, (Andrew) Gaff and (Tim) Kelly to be able to go and play the roles they play.
“It’s an area West Coast really need to fix up. If West Coast are to potentially win a grand final this year, they may only have one or two years to go in their premiership window, I think the contest is an area they have to get a lot better.”