There was never any doubt that Chris Masten was going to make it at the elite level, according to former West Coast vice-captain Beau Waters.
A talented junior, the 27-year-old Masten is due to play game No.150 for the Eagles on Saturday against Adelaide and has become one of the key elements to the strong West Coast midfield in recent seasons.
After being recruited to the club via pick three in the national draft – which the Eagles received from Carlton along with Josh Kennedy for Chris Judd – Masten initially developed steadily without dominating early in his career, playing 54 of a possible 91 games in his first four seasons in the AFL.
Waters told Aflplayers.com.au that the playing group could see Masten’s potential from the moment he walked through the club’s door but injuries affected him early on.
“He oozed talent and oozed potential and had that swagger where once he got some momentum behind him and got going, he was going to be hard to hold back,” Waters said.
“he’s a real larrikin and happy-go-lucky guy and that was a big part of his personality” – Waters on Masten
“I think people forget that Chris had some pretty serious injuries in his first few years. He had a bad PCL, a meniscus tear and a few others so he’d have these fantastic pre-seasons and get to the start of the year and miss huge chunks of the season.
“He’d then be expected to come back and take off from there and it’s just not the case at AFL level, you need to build consistency which he’s been able to do of late.”
Masten had a breakout season in 2012, playing all 24 matches for the Eagles and averaging nearly 22 disposals a match while also hitting the scoreboard with 20 goals for the year.
Since then he’s finished in the top 10 in the Eagles’ best-and-fairest award in each season, excluding 2015 when a suspension and injuries curtailed the back end of his season.
Waters said that despite the external pressure of being a highly touted junior, the Western Australian native didn’t let it affect him around the club.
“Chris came as a number three draft pick with high expectations and I think our last number three was Juddy, so there was a certain element of pressure on him.
“He was a young confident kid, who had great success in footy as a junior and also in track running and cross country. He pretty much had success in everything he touched as a kid.
“It took him a little while to find his feet within the group. But he’s a real larrikin and a happy-go-lucky guy and that was a big part of his personality, he had this great swagger.”
“Hopefully he’ll be part of that midfield group that takes us to our next premiership. For now, though, it’s great to see him rewarded with a milestone for his efforts.”