The unusual pastime helping the Eagles build a winning culture

SUCCESS for West Coast isn't necessarily about making the finals this year, but winning premierships in the not-too-distant future. 

For Eagles captain Emma Swanson, that all starts with creating a strong culture on and off the field. 

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"Ahead of wins and losses, we want to form a culture where people really want to be within our four walls and want to stay there," Swanson said ahead of the club's AFLW debut against Collingwood on Sunday.

"The measure of success for us at the moment is creating something that's really sustainable and in three to five years' time, we're going to be a premiership team."

Swanson has led the way in the bonding department by taking a few teammates out on a boat to catch crabs.

"I took Maddy Collier and Brianna Green out crabbing a couple of months ago down in Mandurah," she said.

"They knew their way around the ropes and the crab nets, so I didn't have to do too much."

The same could not be said for another trip with Eagles teammate Hayley Bullas and former Giants player Alex Saundry, who now manages both Swanson and Bullas. 

"I took those two out and I did everything: I drove the boat, I baited the nets, I dropped them, I pulled them and drove the boat again," she said.

"Everyone's got their strengths, but crabbing wasn't for Bullas.

"She doesn't eat meat so she didn't want to touch the bait on the pots."

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The Eagles will have plenty of time to bond, with four interstate trips scheduled for the 2020 AFLW season – the equal-most of any team.

They will also play at seven different venues in eight games, making the opportunity to establish a home ground advantage more difficult.

"There's positives and negatives of the draw. One positive is travelling with a group is really valuable," Swanson said.

Emma Swanson gets the ball away under pressure from Katie Brennan in a practice match last month. Picture: AFL Photos

"While you're away from home and your comfort zone, travelling and spending the night before the game together and not have a limit on team meetings or chats that you can have to players – that's a real strength of being able to travel."

The Eagles will play four home games across three different grounds in Western Australia, while crosstown rivals Fremantle will have five WA matches at two ovals. 

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Swanson doesn't see that as such a big deal. 

"Home ground advantage and playing at three different grounds, it is what it is," she said.

Emma Swanson has a laugh during a team photo day. Picture: AFL Photos

"It's probably more about the environment you're in the day before the game, rather than the actual ground you're on.

"The two games we have at Lathlain (Mineral Resources Park) are going to be fantastic.

"We train there, we've trained there for about six months."

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West Coast's first game is on the road against Collingwood, in a match that will likely be won and lost at the coalface.

The Magpies lost to Melbourne in a practice match in January, despite smashing the Demons 30-7 in the clearances. 

Regardless, Swanson cannot wait to go head-to-head with the likes of Brianna Davey and Jaimee Lambert.

"I have watched them (Collingwood) a little bit and they've probably got one of the strongest midfields in the comp," Swanson said. 

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