Return to finals a long time coming for Redden
JACK Redden was just nine games into his AFL career when he contested his first finals series, with the Brisbane Lions in 2009.
Little did he know then that he would have to wait until his 162nd appearance to be part of another.
That will come tomorrow night at the Adelaide Oval when he runs out for West Coast against host Port Adelaide.
"It's been a while between drinks," Redden said.
Redden, who debuted in round 15, 2009, was a rising star in a Brisbane team headlined by captain Jonathan Brown and controversial recruit Brendon Fevola.
The Lions beat Carlton in an elimination final but were then bundled out by the Bulldogs the next week.
Redden experienced 10 wins in his first 14 games before the wheels fell off in the Queensland capital.
"Coming into the AFL system and being able to play finals in your first year, I suppose being a young player, you expect to be playing finals every year," he said.
"You come to realise it's not that easy.
"It's important now that we've got the opportunity we make the most of it."
The solidly built midfielder requested a trade to the Eagles at the end of the 2015 season.
But it wasn't a comfortable transition for the South Australian, his first pre-season in Perth severely hampered by an adductor injury.
He was okay for round one - against his old team - but struggled thereafter, ending up in the WAFL towards the end of the year and missing the Eagles' elimination final loss to the Dogs.
"Had a couple of setbacks along the way," Redden said.
"This year has been a lot more positive ... getting my fitness back and a bit of continuity in my training and playing. I've been able to build towards some good form, and play some good footy that I know I can play."
While he did endure another small stint in the WAFL mid-season, Redden's past seven weeks for the Eagles have been outstanding, averaging 24 touches.
He's revelling playing alongside retiring champs Sam Mitchell, Matt Priddis and Drew Petrie.
"It's been pretty special in that regard, being able to work with Mitch, Prid and Drewy. They bring so much experience to the group," Redden said.
"We just want to soak it all up."
While Mitchell's arrival from the Hawks made competition for spots a little more difficult, Redden has appreciated his influence.
"Just his footy IQ," he said. "I've never seen a player with a footy IQ like he has. He's been awesome.
"I'm looking forward to working under him in the future when he's a coach (next year)."
Redden said the Eagles were determined to keep Mitchell and co in the game as long as possible by beating the Power.
They snatched eighth place after upsetting Adelaide in the final round in what Redden described as a "pretty special game".
The Eagles beat the Power in Adelaide in round seven and have had five wins from their past six visits there.
"Now that we're in, I feel like anything can happen," he said. "If we can play our best footy, we can really do some damage. There's no reason why we can't go deep into September.
"The attitude and vibe around the club has been really good."