Mitch Brown thanks his "lucky stars" he stayed at West Coast rather than being traded to St Kilda and no longer continually worries about being dropped.
The defender revealed Eagles players were secretly hoping results fell their way so they could confront arch rivals Fremantle in a derby elimination final next weekend in what he said would be "one of the biggest games" in WA football history.
And the team had spoken about proving a point against Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium tomorrow by showing it could stand up under pressure with finals on the line rather than falling away as it did against Essendon a fortnight ago.
Brown is "gutted" to miss the Suns clash with foot soreness but admitted the what-if scenarios that could have taken his 89-game career in a different direction had made the disappointment bearable.
The 26-year-old requested a trade to the Saints at the end of 2012 after playing just eight games that season. The move was blocked by West Coast.
The Eagles are now fighting for eighth spot and the chance to play in September. Unless they beat Adelaide tomorrow, St Kilda will finish last.
"I thank my lucky stars every day that I was fortunate enough to not go and stayed here," Brown said. "I don't know if things happen for a reason but they did and I am honestly grateful to stay here.
"It's such a great club and then the footy gods have repaid me a little bit this year."
Brown has been an automatic selection under coach Adam Simpson, stringing together 19 matches this year.
He will wear a moon boot over the next few days to assist his recovery and remains confident of being fit to play in his first final in eight seasons if West Coast qualify.
"I always talk to my brother (Nathan) and he's obviously played on the last (Saturday) in September and he said 'never take playing a final for granted at all'," Brown said.
"It'd be really nice to play next week, especially in a final derby."
Brown said a conversation with Simpson early in the season when he had been told not to worry about selection had restored his confidence. He has been labelled an "animal" by Simpson and said he enjoyed the challenge of playing on some of the league's best small forwards, including Hayden Ballantyne.