West Coast have pulled a selection shock, picking midfielder Elliot Yeo for his first AFL game in almost nine months when the Eagles take on Essendon at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
Yeo returned for the Eagles’ WAFL side at Leederville Oval on Saturday, playing just over 70 minutes, finishing with 13 disposals and a game-high eight tackles.
The 27-year-old played the last of his 165 AFL games in round 11 of last year, when he had 21 disposals against Carlton, before going down with osteitis pubis.
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West Coast decided against surgery in the hopes of the two-time John Worsfold medallist playing finals, but he never got back, sitting out the rest of the season.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson said Yeo was a chance after the Eagles’ loss to Greater Western Sydney on Sunday.
“We’re working through that. There’s opportunities to play this week, we just have to wait to see how he pulls up,” Simpson said.
The premiership midfielder ruled himself out yesterday, saying he was going to suit up for the Eagles in the WAFL again when they take on South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
“The plan was always to play two WAFL games, get as much in as I can,” he said on Perth’s 96fm’s The Bunch.
“I probably think there’ll be another run at WAFL level but that decision’s out of my hands.
“Once that fitness sort of builds up, hopefully (a return is) not far away.”
On Sunday, Simpson said Yeo’s selection would depend on how he pulled up from the game.
Eagles WAFL coach Daniel Pratt said Yeo’s performance on Saturday “warrants AFL selection”.
“I was really happy with his performance. We wanted him to play between 70 and 80 minutes and I thought he competed really well,” Pratt said.
“I thought when he got his hands on the ball we probably looked at our most dangerous and he got some really good field position.”
West Coast have sensationally dropped forward Jake Waterman, despite it being his first chance to play AFL across from his brother Alec, who will play his fifth game for the Bombers and first in WA.
Tall defender Harry Edwards has also been omitted, with both named as emergencies alongside first-year midfielder Luke Edwards and in-form defender Luke Foley.
Essendon forward Jake Stringer has recovered from a hamstring injury to play in the big clash, with young forward Harrison Jones omitted.
West Coast’s Team
B: S Hurn T Barrass B Sheppard
HB: J Brander J Rotham T Cole
C: A Gaff J Redden J Cripps
HF: B Ah Chee J Darling D Sheed
F: O Allen J Kennedy L Ryan
FOLL: N Naitanui E Yeo T Kelly
I/C: J Petruccelle J Nelson J Jones B Williams
EMG: J Waterman L Edwards H Edwards L Foley
IN: E Yeo
OUT: H Edwards J Waterman (both omitted)