West Coast great Glen Jakovich says the equalling of his games-played record of 276 by ruckman Dean Cox proves that the club he loves has improved significantly since his retirement in 2004.

Cox will join Jakovich as the Eagles' longest-serving players in today's clash at Patersons Stadium against St Kilda - the club which almost lured him in 2003 as he struggled for opportunities behind then No.1 ruckman Michael Gardiner.

Glen Jakovich and Dean Cox catching up inside West Coast's change rooms this week. Pic: Dione Davidson/WA News

Jakovich, a four-times West Coast club champion, said his former teammate's looming milestone had made him pause to reflect on what the record meant to him.

"I remember Mick Malthouse saying he hated records, he says records are there to be broken," Jakovich said.

"It's a true word because if they don't get broken then the club may not have progressed.

"It's just the evolution of clubs getting better and producing great players, which our club has done for so many years.

"I thought, well, imagine holding the record for 30 years and walking out on the ground with a walking stick to hand it over to a guy you absolutely don't know.

"This way, I know Dean's had a profound effect on a lot of people's lives."

That includes his seven-year-old son Bryce, whose West Coast jumper has Cox's No.20 on the back.

Jakovich will commentate on the Eagles' battle with the Saints on Melbourne radio station SEN, but will not be in Australia if Cox officially passes his mark against Geelong at Simonds Stadium next Saturday.

He will be in London as part of his coaching role with the AFL-AIS Academy team.

However, the pair shared a private breakfast in Subiaco on Wednesday and later revealed a deep respect for each other to _The Weekend West _.

Jakovich was in his 207th game when Cox made his 2001 debut.

The pair were teammates in 58 games over four seasons and they still talk regularly about life outside football.

They were also teammates when Jakovich booted three goals in his last match.

"I vividly remember it," Cox said. "When you're looking at a player who has had so much impact on a footy club, to be able to play in his last game … we needed a momentum swing in the game so they swung him forward and he kicked some goals.

"You knew when he was 60 (metres) out there was no point leading or calling for any ball because he was going back and having a shot.

"But he was someone I idolised when I was young and it was great to share it with him.

"You look at the players of Jako's calibre and the legacy they've left on the footy club … we want to make sure that when we do leave, the club is a better place for having us around."

Jakovich said while he had "limped" past two-times premiership teammate Guy McKenna's then record of 267 games late in 2003, he was pleased that Cox was still playing near the peak of his powers.

He believed the ruckman's humble background growing up in Dampier had boosted his resilience, but could not resist recalling the now famous story of how Cox battled to complete a 2km time-trial run at his first training session when he could beat home only full-forward Scott Cummings.

"A massive feat it was, knocking Cummo off," Cox laughed.

"I certainly didn't know what a pre-season was, let alone an AFL one. Eventually I got there, but it was a long start.

"When I was young, I loved the West Coast Eagles. To get on to a list, then to play one game, then to become a life member of the club and the success and a premiership that came with it, I owe the club everything for giving me the opportunity to represent it so many times."


The West Australian

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