Eagle Cripps reflects on health challenge

West Coast's Jamie Cripps will be a crucial cog in Saturday's grand final against Collingwood.
West Coast's Jamie Cripps will be a crucial cog in Saturday's grand final against Collingwood.

In 2010, Jamie Cripps was lying in a hospital bed with a secret he didn't want AFL clubs to find out about.

Cripps was an 18-year-old rising star who looked destined to play AFL, but his world was rocked one week before the national draft.

"I had lost about 10kg and was weeing heaps," Cripps said.

"And I couldn't really get out of bed. My parents thought something wasn't right and they took me to hospital.

"We found out I had type 1 diabetes. That was the week before the draft.

"I was in hospital for a few days. I kept it pretty quiet so no one knew about it before I got drafted."

St Kilda used their first-round selection (pick No.24) to snare Cripps.

Once he arrived at the Saints, he told them the bad news.

To St Kilda's credit, they wrapped their arms around the teen and gave him the help and support he needed.

Fast-forward eight years and Cripps is on the verge of becoming a premiership player.

His stint at the Saints was short - two years and 16 games.

But he's flourished over the past six seasons at West Coast, and will be a crucial cog in Saturday's grand final against Collingwood.

Cripps has daily injections to manage his type 1 diabetes.

During games, he has to check his blood sugar levels at quarter-time, halftime, three-quarter-time and after the match.

Cripps wants to inspire others who have type 1 diabetes, saying they too can achieve their dreams.

"It's good that I can help out the kids with type 1," said Cripps, whose father also has type 1 diabetes.

"It's a tough thing to handle."

Cripps has booted a career-high 37 goals this season as part of West Coast's potent forward set-up.

The 26-year-old said the arrival of goalsneaks Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan had helped reinvigorate him rather than leave him fearful for his spot in the side.

"It's awesome to have them there," Cripps said.

"They are lighting speed and you don't know what they are going to do sometimes. We just want them to play freely."

Australian Associated Press