It's been a successful season for the West Coast Eagles in many ways, from their impressive run of form since round seven to the way they've handled the pressure as reigning premiers over the course of the entire half and away season. Another real positive to come out of this year has been the continued improvement of many of this team's younger players; in particular, forward Oscar Allen. The youngster, who is capable of playing in a range of positions, has undoubtedly been one of the standout members of his team this season.
A taste of what's to come
The 20-year-old earned the Round 21 Rising Star nomination following a brilliant three-goal showing against the Adelaide Crows, capping off what has been a fantastic season for the Western Australian. Having broken into the team at the end of last season after being selected 21st overall in the 2017 draft, Allen has established himself as a competent, ever-present member of the team this year, scoring 19 goals in 19 appearances as a third tall forward.
Allen's versatility has been highlighted on a number of occasions, with him switching into defence and the ruck, looking well at home whenever and wherever he's been asked to do a job. But it was as a forward where his real season highlight occurred, with Allen kicking the game-winning goal against the Crows at Adelaide Oval in round 10. However, it's been his consistency that has been the real takeaway from Allen's first full season in the team, and the club and fans will be delighted he is contracted until the end of 2022.
What this means for the future of the Eagles
Having come so close to appearing in last season's Grand Final after being placed on standby for Jeremy McGovern, Allen will now be desperate to play a key role in the Eagles earning their place in this year's showpiece and potentially back-to-back flags. Currently priced at around 7/2 with the latest Aussie Rules betting, West Coast will be as confident as anyone when it comes to the finals.
There are some who have labelled Allen as the prototype footballer of the future - the ultra-swingman. The 20-year old has all the attributes to play across the park; key forward, key back, ruck and even in the middle. For the time being, it's up top as a prized tall forward where the Eagles think they can get the most out of Allen, and so far the results have proven them right. But it also gives head coach, Adam Simpson, options that he may well need between now and the end of the club's season, whenever that is.
The battle for the Eagles is to now secure a top-two spot, something they managed to do last season, going on to beat Collingwood in a thrilling Grand Final. Based on their current form, though, there won't be many teams in the finals who will want to draw West Coast at any point in the playoffs. With a squad packed with experience and the ability to provide what it takes to win a premiership, the addition of younger players like Oscar Allen has added an element to the side that perhaps wasn't there last year.