Eagle Tom Hickey in career-best AFL form
West Coast coach Adam Simpson has praised the influence of journeyman Tom Hickey, saying the ruckman is probably in career-best AFL form.
Hickey was traded to West Coast at the end of last year to help cover the loss of Scott Lycett and be a ruck insurance for Nic Naitanui.
But with Naitanui (knee-ankle) limited to just three games and fellow ruck option Nathan Vardy battling form and injury woes all year, Hickey has become a key figure in West Coast's premiership defence.
Hickey is averaging 19.5 hitouts, 4.4 clearances and 13 disposals this season.
Although his figures were slightly higher when playing for St Kilda last year, Hickey's influence is bigger now than ever before.
"He's probably having his best year as a player," Simpson said.
"(He's had) continuity, opportunity - really specific with his role. He is complying really well.
"He seems to find the ball a bit more than most ruckmen and not in ways that is at a detriment to the side. It's in the right way. He's been pretty good for us."
Hickey spent the first two years of his career at Gold Coast before having a six-season stint at St Kilda.
The 28-year-old is yet to play a finals match but that drought will end this year barring injury.
Even if Naitanui returns in time for the finals, Hickey is in the box seat to be his ruck partner after the combination worked well earlier this year.
West Coast sit third on the ladder and will guarantee themselves a top-two finish if they can win their final two games.
That will be no easy feat given the Eagles face Richmond at the MCG on Sunday.
The Tigers have won seven straight games to storm into fourth spot and are set to be boosted by the return of Dustin Martin this week.