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West Coast Eagles

Simmo says Eagles' 'brand' standing up in the big games

Simpson press conference 30.05.19 The senior coach discusses all the issues heading into this Sunday's game against the Bulldogs

West Coast coach Adam Simpson is seeing signs the reigning premiers are getting back to a brand that stands up in big games, after challenging his players to get tougher.

Beltings from Port Adelaide and Geelong had the Eagles under the microscope but they are getting back on track after four-straight wins – the best of which was last Saturday's epic come-from-behind interstate triumph over the Crows.

Led by dual club champion Elliot Yeo, who has laid 49 tackles in the past month, West Coast has turned a wobbly flag defence around ahead of a home clash with the up-and-down Western Bulldogs on Sunday.

"I think what we've done the last month is we've played a brand of football that stands up in the big, tough games, so that's important we continue that anyway," Simpson said.

"We had a good focus at training of just groundballs, contest, balance – all those things.

"It feels like we're in a better space than we were four weeks ago. Our pressure has gone up.

"That doesn't mean success, it just gives you a chance."

The Eagles are set to recall half-back Lewis Jetta after a one-game suspension, most likely replacing Jackson Nelson, in what could be their only change.

Simpson declared Jetta an immediate inclusion and believed the superboot – who is still uncontracted beyond this year – has improvement left in him after switching to defence last season.

"He's still trying to master his craft … in that space," Simpson said.

"But we've been really pleased with his progression over the last 12 months. "Ball in hand he's really effective for us, but his ability to defend and work with the other defenders is something that doesn't happen overnight.

"I thought last year he grew in that role."

 The Eagles' ruck setup has become a weekly topic, and will remain so at least until Nic Naitanui returns – potentially for the WAFL reserves outfit at East Fremantle Oval on June 22 after the mid-season AFL bye.

Only Naitanui and Tom Barrass (foot) remain unavailable from the first-choice line-up, while young forward Daniel Venables is still weeks away after a heavy concussion in the win over Melbourne two rounds ago.

"It's just taken a while and we're really cautious of where he's at," Simpson said.

 

"He's probably a couple more weeks before we start exploring what he does in terms of his return to play.


"It's not a major concern. It was a big knock. He's a young man and we want to give it a bit of time to get it right."