MELBOURNE, Australia -- West Coast midfielder Elliot Yeo says he knew, even before the 2018 season got underway, that his side had the potential to reach the Grand Final.
The Eagles only just snuck into the finals last year after finishing the home and away season in eighth place, and when Brownlow Medallists Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell announced their retirement, many expected 2018 to be a rebuilding year for the men in blue and gold.
However, Adam Simpson's side opened the season 10-1 to stun many before going on to finish the regular season in second place. A tight and tense qualifying final win over Grand Final opposition Collingwood was backed up with a comprehensive thrashing of Melbourne last week to book a place in the AFL's decider.
Yeo, 24, told ESPN during Friday's Grand Final Parade that his confidence and expectation was always sky-high, despite what others on the outside were saying.
"At the start of the year most people probably would have thought we would have taken a top eight spot," Yeo told ESPN. "But I always knew that we had the right list and I was certainly confident that we would be able to take it up to the top teams [in 2018].
"Halfway through the season we were playing a really good brand of football and I thought we probably could play on a day like tomorrow. I'm not pinching myself [because] the belief we've got and trust in teammates was always there and now it's come through."
In addition to their qualifying final win over Collingwood, West Coast also got the better of the Magpies in Round 17 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The Eagles won that contest by 35 points, their biggest winning margin at the home of football since 2014.
However, Yeo stressed that his side wouldn't be taking too much confidence from the pair of wins in 2018, insisting that a Grand Final is a completely different beast.
"To be honest, it's not really much of a confidence booster because a grand final is such a different day," Yeo told ESPN. "They've been playing really good football, they took it up to us last time we were in Perth and they played a really good game against Richmond last week. That was really impressive."
"A grand final is a whole different story but it's exciting, it's going to be a tough game and I'm looking forward to the challenge."