When you hear of the West Coast Eagles’ midfield, there are a few names that may pop straight into your mind. Daniel Kerr, Andrew Embley, Scott Selwood, Luke Shuey, Matt Priddis and Matt Rosa are their main men. But there is one name that isn’t on that list that you cannot discount, and that man is Chris Masten.
Masten is the forgotten Eagle. The number seven of the Eagles has been one of the most underrated players in the AFL this year. He is coming off a career high 39 disposals against Melbourne in round three and has averaged 30.3 disposals across his first three games.
What may surprise a few is that Masten was part of the Chris Judd trade deal in 2007.
The former West Coast champion left the Eagles for Carlton (as well as pick 46, used on Dennis Armfield) and the Eagles won two highly-rated young AFL players (as well as pick 20, Tony Notte). Prominent forward Josh Kennedy was on the rise at Carlton before his trade to the Eagles. They also acquired pick three in the national draft. They later used that on Masten and he has been forgotten in what was one of the biggest trade deals in the modern time.
Masten has been overshadowed by the emergence of super-forward Kennedy and the blossoming Selwood. Early in Masten’s career he had to fight for his spot, but now the 23-year-old has well and truly cemented his spot in the best 22.
Young midfielders need time to adjust and need to make their game as perfect as it can be. Masten may have taken his time to adjust, but now he is reaping the rewards of persisting with his game.
In his first season at the club he only managed eight games. He is now into his sixth season and it was not until last year that he finally found that edge his game needed.
In 2012 he averaged 21.7 disposals in 24 games. Masten played every game in an injury-plagued year for the club, including the heart-breaking semi-final loss to Collingwood. The ‘elite runner’ drilled 20 goals and drastically improved on his game, as in 2011 he only played 13 games with a disposal average of 14.6 per game.
After 81 games, the road to Masten’s future is clearer and he has the package to become the perfect midfielder. His ability to break the midfield lines is surging, he can kick goals which is a must in a midfielder’s game and he has silky skills.
Simply put, Masten has the capability to become an ‘elite’ midfielder, which is a very high accolade. Recently he re-signed with the club until the end of the 2016 season and he has finally found the attitude after six topsy-turvy years.
With the likes of Kerr, Embley and Selwood, it may be hard to remember Masten. However, Masten is finally flourishing in the AFL and he is one Eagle who should never be forgotten again.