Karl Langdon predicts West Coast to finish top six even if Jack Darling does not return

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Catherine HealeyThe West Australian
Will Jack Darling to return to play for West Coast in 2022?
Camera IconWill Jack Darling to return to play for West Coast in 2022? Credit: AFL Photos

Footy commentator and The Sunday Times columnist Karl Langdon believes West Coast can play finals in 2022, even if star forward Jack Darling does not return to the AFL.

Darling was last week barred from attending the club after failing to meet the AFL’s strict COVID vaccine policy, putting his football future in doubt.

But Langdon says the Eagles still have enough fire power to challenge this season.

“I still have them in the top six just based around a lot of their reputations,” he said on 6PR.

“You take Darling out, they’ve got (Jamie) Cripps, (Liam) Ryan, (Oscar) Allen, (Willie) Rioli, (Josh) Kennedy – that’s not a bad forward line. That’s five.”

Langdon predicted Allen to have a bigger year than his breakout 2021, given the youngster struggled with injury late in the season, and said the club needed a healthy list to press for finals.

“If (Luke) Shuey and (Elliot) Yeo and their midfield is all fit, you’ve got to have a lot of luck. If they’re all fit and firing, and (Nic) Naitanui is all fit … it’s about supply,” he said.

“I’ve still got them in the top six. It’s whether they can win enough games to get in the four. Because you have got to finish in the top four.

“On their age profile, there’s a lot of blokes near the edge of the cliff.”

Co-host Mark Readings said without Darling and retired defender Brad Sheppard, it would be “extremely difficult” for West Coast to play finals.

But with Rioli now available after serving his drug suspension in 2021, Readings expects the forward to be the club’s X-factor.

“He hasn’t played football for a long time… whether he can come back and create an impact remains to be seen,” he said.

“The best of the West Coast Eagles is still very good.”

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