Brayden Maynard pushes Liam Ryan. Picture: Getty Images
Brayden Maynard pushes Liam Ryan. Picture: Getty Images

Car crash ‘straightened me up’: Eagle

WEST COAST goalsneak Liam Ryan is confident he has turned his life around, saying his early-morning car crash in July was a big wake-up call.

Ryan looms as a crucial cog in West Coast's premiership bid after producing a strong performance in Saturday night's 16-point qualifying final win over Collingwood.

The man known as "Flyin' Ryan" tallied 15 disposals, five inside 50s and two goals in the 12.14 (86) to 10.10 (70) win at Perth Stadium.

It took his tally to 10 goals in his past five matches, with his blitzing pace and amazing leap the key attributes to his success.

But Ryan's career was on shaky ground two months ago when he crashed his car into a tree during an early-morning incident.

Ryan, who had breached the team's alcohol policy the night before, was handed a two-match club-imposed ban.

The incident highlighted the need for West Coast to provide Ryan with more support, and the 179cm forward has benefited from that.

 

Liam Ryan tries to break a James Aish tackle on Saturday night. Picture: Getty Images
Liam Ryan tries to break a James Aish tackle on Saturday night. Picture: Getty Images

Ryan, speaking publicly for the first time about the car crash, said he has worked hard to turn his life around with special support from teammates Lewis Jetta and Josh Kennedy.

He described Jetta, who has taken the club's indigenous players under his wing, as like a big brother.

"That car crash really straightened me up," Ryan told AAP.

"I really had a lot of support from the boys, mainly Jetts and mainly JK, because he's from the same area as me.

"I had a bit of stuff going on off the field. But now I'm fine, I'm all cleared with all that, and just focused on finals footy."

Ryan hails from Geraldton, a coastal city 415km north of Perth.

He moved to Perth in 2016 to link up with WAFL side Subiaco, and he was snared by West Coast with pick No. 26 in the 2017 national draft.

Ryan said he had struggled at times being away from home.

"It's been a hard road for me - coming from a little home, moving down here, hardly knowing people," Ryan said.

"But I'm loving life at the moment."

Ryan revealed he was plagued by nerves leading into his first final.

And it showed - with his 30m set shot early in the game resulting in a horrible shank that sailed way out of bounds.

But he quickly found his groove, and sent the record 59,585 crowd into raptures with a 50m goal in the opening term.

Ryan was embraced by his girlfriend and his baby in the change rooms after the match, and he lapped up the experience.

"To come in and get some cuddles, it makes you happier," he said.

Meanwhile, Brad Sheppard's finals campaign could be over after the West Coast defender injured his hamstring in Saturday night's qualifying final win over Collingwood.

Sheppard injured his left hamstring just 19 minutes into the match after soccering the ball in mid-air.

The 27-year-old immediately grabbed at the high part of his hamstring and went down to the change rooms for further assessment.

Sheppard struggled to walk after suffering the injury, and now faces a race against time to play again this year.

Scans will determine the extent of the damage.



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