A mystery foot injury has almost certainly ended the AFL premiership hopes of West Coast defender Beau Waters, but the Eagles will enter Saturday night’s semi-final brimming with confidence after brutally dispatching North Melbourne on Sunday.
Waters was immediately sent off for scans after pulling up lame in innocuous fashion during West Coast’s 96-point hammering of the ‘Roos in a one-sided elimination final at Patersons Stadium.
The club’s medical staff fear Waters may have suffered a ’turf toe’ injury or some other ligament damage, and the Eagles are bracing themselves to be without their inspirational vice-captain for the rest of the finals series.
West Coast move on to a semi-final clash with Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday night.
The Eagles were at their scintillating best against the Kangaroos, booting the first nine goals of the match and nine goals to one in the final quarter to surge to their biggest finals victory.
Jack Darling, Andrew Embley and Josh Kennedy booted four goals apiece in the 24.18 (162) to 9.12 (66) rout, while Quinten Lynch nabbed three on a day when West Coast boasted 13 individual goal kickers.
Lynch faces a nervous wait to see whether he’ll be cited by the match review panel for clumsily kneeing Scott McMahon in the back in a late attempt to spoil a mark.
Kangaroos veteran Brent Harvey will almost certainly be suspended after giving West Coast midfielder Daniel Kerr a whack to the face in an off-the-ball incident late in the match.
West Coast comprehensively beat Collingwood by 49 points when the two teams met in Perth a fortnight ago.
And although the Eagles face a six-day break ahead of the cut-throat re-match in Melbourne, Eagles coach John Worsfold felt his team had the weaponry to notch an upset victory on enemy territory.
“We thought that last week and the week before (that we could go all the way),” Worsfold said.
“We’ve played some pretty good footy throughout the year, but in terms of having Kennedy and Embley back in the team, we haven’t had them back in and real match-hardened since the first few rounds of the year.”
Kangaroos coach Brad Scott believed West Coast, who collected the wooden spoon two years ago, have a good chance of snaring the flag.
“I remember coming here three years ago and every Perth reporter wanted to tell me how bad a coach Worsfold was and what a basket case the Eagles were,” Scott said.
“I hope they’re eating their words and I hope they’ve apologised to him because he’s done a terrific job with them and the Eagles management have done a terrific job building their list.
“I think it’s a great lesson for everyone, a great lesson for us.”
Eagles ruckman Dean Cox said the players were feeling for Waters, who has enjoyed his best season yet and is a chance to earn his maiden All-Australian jumper.
“What he gives to the football side is 100 per cent commitment, on and off the field,” Cox said.
“We know Beau will push the boundaries to try and get back and be a part of this team as quickly as possible.”
The winner of the encounter between Collingwood and West Coast will face the Swans in Sydney on Friday week.