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Milestone man says hurt Eagles will survive
Beau Waters. Pic: Lincoln Baker/WA News

Milestone man Beau Waters has backed West Coast to weather the storm despite their growing injury list heading into tomorrow night's match against Essendon at Etihad Stadium.

The Eagles are without more than a third of their best 22 for Waters' 100th match, with Adam Selwood (hand) joining a steadily growing injury list.

Debutant Ryan Neates and second-gamer Jacob Brennan flew east yesterday as part of a 24-man squad.

Josh Kennedy, Andrew Embley, Mark LeCras and Mark Nicoski all have long-term injuries while Nic Naitanui, Will Schofield, Ashley Smith and Ashton Hams round out those sidelined by injury or suspension.

Waters backed youngsters like Neates and Brennan to get the job done against the Bombers.

"All the players have taken real ownership of our game plan and the way we're playing football," Waters said.

"I think that the boys coming in have the expectation from themselves and from the rest of the group that they perform to the level that'll help us win."

West Coast's press faltered in the corresponding trip to Etihad Stadium last year when Essendon won by 16 points.

But Waters believed the 2012 game plan would stand up to this latest test and could ultimately deliver a fourth premiership.

"I think each player on the field has to buy into the defensive aspect and I believe our side as a whole has bought into that," he said.

"Yes, I think the defensive component will win you a premiership and yes, I think our side has the cap-ability to do that."

The vice-captain was not insulted by claims that the Eagles deliberately dropped their knees in tackles to draw head-high contact, although the league leaders have not lost a free-kick count in any of their six matches.

"We're about intensity, getting to the ball first, putting our heads over the ball and that's what we pride ourselves on," Waters said.

"If that's their perception or their interpretation of what we're doing, then so be it."

He is 100 per cent over the elbow injuries that sidelined him for an entire season and said the 100-game mark had not felt a long time coming despite missing so many games.

"When you arrive at a footy club, you're quickly reminded by a lot of people to treasure every moment because the journey goes quite quickly," Waters said.