AFL Grand Final: Eagles forward Mark Le Cras says next generation helped reinvigorate career

Mark LeCras celebrates scoring a goal during the prelimary final against Melbourne last Saturday. Picture: Will Russell
Mark LeCras celebrates scoring a goal during the prelimary final against Melbourne last Saturday. Picture: Will Russell

ON the eve of what could be his AFL curtain call, West Coast veteran Mark LeCras says the next generation of Eagles have reinvigorated his career.

The 32-year-old LeCras will be the oldest Eagles player in Saturday’s AFL grand final against Collingwood, although injuries including a torn ACL in 2012 mean he has played fewer games (218) than skipper Shannon Hurn (247).

There were calls for LeCras to retire at the end of last year after an inconsistent season in which the classy forward played through a hip injury.

But he has thrived this season in a new-look forward line, booting 32 goals from 22 games and acting as a mentor for exciting newcomers Liam Ryan and Willie Rioli.

A call is yet to be made on whether LeCras plays on for a 14th season but the off-contract stalwart has relished every minute of the 2018 campaign.

“It’s been a fun year with those guys,” LeCras said at Friday’s grand-final parade.

“They love coming in and training and they really enjoy their footy.

“For me, it’s helped reinvigorate me as a football player. I’ve loved every minute of this year. But it’s all about tomorrow now that we’re over here.”

LeCras is one of a dozen Eagles hoping to deliver a better showing on the AFL’s biggest stage after playing in the 2015 grand-final loss to Hawthorn.

He also experienced September heartbreak early in his career when he was dropped during the 2006 finals and missed out on West Coast’s premiership triumph.

“I wouldn’t say that I was close,” LeCras said.

“I was still really inexperienced. I was a young player.

“Being able to go through that ride with the boys and be on the list when they won, it definitely helped drive me for the rest of my career and showed me the level that you need to get to to have a long career in the AFL.”