Eagles vow to fight for Gaff
PREMIERS West Coast are set to lose ruckman Scott Lycett, but the Eagles are planning to dig in for a huge fight over the future of star midfielder Andrew Gaff as North Melbourne circle the restricted free agent.
Gaff paid the price for punching Fremantle youngster Andrew Brayshaw in the Round 20 western derby, missing out on a premiership medal through suspension.
The All-Australian wingman will be able to resume in Round 3 next season, having now served six matches of his eight-week ban.
West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett vowed to fight to hold onto Gaff with the free agency window opening on Friday.
"We rate him very, very highly. Put it that way. If everyone's assuming he's gone, well they might have to think again," Nisbett said.
"There's been no consideration of trading Gaffy. There's no consideration of trading him or letting him go. We'll jump all those hurdles if we get to them."
Nisbett said Lycett had not informed the Eagles he wanted to move to Port Adelaide as a restricted free agent.
"He hasn't come out and said 'I'm out'. We'll speak to both of the boys during the week and we'll try to ascertain where they're at and where their thinking is," he said.
"We're very hopeful that they'll consider where they're at and hopefully stay. If it goes the other way, well we'll have to work through that, but we'll see what happens."
Nisbett, who has been at the club for all four flags, said he could not rank them but Saturday's triumph was special because it was done with a team that lacked the quality and star power of the 1992, 1994 and 2006 outfits.
"I think the resilience and the bond of this team - we had some really good players missing and they were still good enough," he said.
"We probably had more stars in the 2000s. This is a more even team and I think the evenness made them bond even closer.
"I don't think there's any ranking. I think they're just very sweet because they're just so hard to win.
"I mean Grand Finals are really difficult to get to, particularly from the west. But when you get there, you've got to try and knock them over and we missed in 2015 and got this one. So we're very proud of the boys.
"I think it's probably one of the better achievements of the four, because no one rated us. All the other years we've been rated very highly.
"I don't think anyone in the country thought we could win (before the season). If we are honest, at the start of the year our first aim is always to get the eight and if we can make the four, that's better. But to finish top-two really gives you a chance and when we finished top-two, it gave us a real chance and the boys responded to that."
Nisbett said the MCG-sized training oval at Lathlain Park had played a role in the 2018 premiership, as had the club's new home ground dimensions at Perth Stadium.
"Our list management team and our recruiting guys and all the coaching staff have built from underneath, which is what we do," he said.
"And then cherry-pick some players to come in. I think they've done a phenomenal job and the coaching staff under Simmo have been brilliant. It all has to come together to win a premiership.
"Our boys have been resilient all year. So I was always thinking we just need to claw our way back in and that's what they did.
"I felt the game starting to change about into time-on in the first. They were ferocious early Collingwood. It's a pity someone had to lose really."