Right Royal finals issue
Dom Sheed. Pic: Lincoln Baker/WA News

East Perth are on a collision course with the other finals-bound WAFL clubs over the number of West Coast Eagles eligible to play in September.

A virtual Eagles second 18 could play for East Perth in this year's finals, increasing the likelihood that a ceiling will be introduced next season to limit the potential for lopsided matches.

Eighteen Eagles have already qualified to play finals for East Perth.

And two others - last year's grand final Simpson medallist Mark Hutchings and utility player Will Schofield - need to make just two more WAFL appearances to qualify.

East Perth are virtually certain to play finals this season.

They sit on top of the WAFL ladder after 12 rounds while their soft run home includes four more games against bottom two teams Peel and Claremont, including tomorrow's clash at Claremont Showground.

Three wins from their remaining nine matches would be enough to guarantee the Royals finals action this season.

East Perth's success means the WA Football Commission sustainability committee - which comprises four senior commission employees and four WAFL chief executives - is likely to recommend an eligibility ceiling next season.

The committee includes commission chief executive Gary Walton, chief operating officer Nick Sautner and corporate governance manager Michael Hnatojko.

Only 10 AFL-listed players are allowed to appear in Foxtel Cup matches but there is no cap on how many players a team can field in WAFL finals.

The only requirement is that players appear in five qualifying matches during the season or receive a credit for any game when they were an AFL emergency.

West Coast have supplied an average of 14.7 players to East Perth in each round this season with 11.5 Eagles, on average, playing in every league match.

Fremantle have provided 13.8 players each week to their aligned team Peel with 12.6 playing league each round.

Big men Jeremy McGovern and Scott Lycett as well as additions Josh Hill, Jacob Brennan and Pat McGinnity are the only players qualified for East Perth to be selected for West Coast this weekend.

Fraser McInnes, Adam Carter and Ash Smith have played every game for the Royals this season while Brennan has missed only one.

Others to be regular East Perth players include Blayne Wilson, Sam Butler, Hill, McGinnity, Callum Sinclair and Dom Sheed, who have each played seven WAFL games, while Brant Colledge, Simon Tunbridge, Lycett and McGovern have each played six.

East Perth have played 38 players this season - more than any other club except Peel (43) - with up to a dozen WAFL-listed players considered first-choice selections.

Co-captains Brendan Lee and Craig Wulff have been restricted by broken fingers, while ruckman Paul Johnson, power forward Josh Smith, midfielders Freddie Clutterbuck and Steven Payne, and defenders Kyle Anderson and Nathan Blee are in East Perth's best combination.

DID YOU KNOW? 14.7 The average number of players the Eagles supplied to East Perth each round this season

The West Australian

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