West Coast midfielder Sharrod Wellingham insists it’s too early to think about the club’s flag chances, saying the team won’t know how much they’ve improved until they encounter some AFL heavyweights.
The Eagles finished 13th last year in a season cruelled by injuries, and they were expected to take some time to get going in 2014 under new coach Adam Simpson.
But big wins over the Western Bulldogs (65 points) and Melbourne Demons (93) have thrust West Coast into top spot, fuelling talk the Eagles could be a surprise flag contender this year.
West Coast are hot favourites to post another thumping victory when they host St Kilda on Saturday night.
But the three-time premiers will get a clearer picture of where they stand over the next month when they take on Geelong (SS), Port Adelaide, Carlton (ES) and Fremantle.
“Outside the club, everyone’s loving us walloping teams by huge margins,” Wellingham said on Wednesday.
“But the hype’s not that big inside the walls of the club.
“We haven’t had a massive test yet.
“We’ve played really well, but there hasn’t been any close games. That’s when we’ll really see how we’ve developed.
“If we could finish top four, it would be amazing. If we could finish top eight, it would be awesome as well.
“To play some finals footy would be a step forward, and that’s all we’re looking to do.”
Wellingham was restricted to just 10 games last year due to two serious ankle injuries, but the former Magpie is on track for a big year after completing a solid pre-season campaign.
The 25-year-old spent time in a jail cell on Wednesday, but it was all for a good cause.
Wellingham shared a cell with two-Test spinner Ashton Agar, with the pair raising money as part of the PCYC fundraiser Time4Kids, which aims to put a stop to youth crime through early intervention and community programs.
“There’s plenty of kids when you grow up that take the wrong path,” Wellingham said.
“As the old saying goes, ‘idle hands are the devil’s playground’.
“This is something that’s going to keep kids occupied, and keep their mind’s occupied.”