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West Coast Eagles

Key defender racing the clock

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 20: Adam Simpson, Senior Coach of the Eagles coach addresses the team at three quarter time break during the 2019 AFL round 14 match between the West Coast Eagles and the Essendon Bombers at Optus Stadium on June 20, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos)
Adam Simpson will give Tom Barrass every chance to prove his fitness for Saturday's clash with Hawthorn

Tom Barrass is racing the clock to prove his fitness for West Coast’s important round 15 clash with Hawthorn, according to Adam Simpson.

The Eagles’ senior coach told Perth media today that the club would make a late call on Barrass’ availability ahead of the team’s flight to Melbourne tomorrow.

Barrass sustained a big cork to his right calf during his comeback match with the WAFL Eagles on Saturday.

Should Barrass miss, West Coast would be without its two intercept marking kings after triple all-Australian Jeremy McGovern’s one-match sanction was upheld by the AFL Tribunal yesterday.

“We’re going to give (Barrass) every chance,” Simpson said.

“He trained briefly today – he didn’t do a lot – so we’ll see how he pulls up this afternoon and tomorrow. Being an interstate game, it’s hard to leave it until the last minute, but we are going to leave it to the last minute."

While Barrass’ absence would be a blow to the Eagles, Simpson was confident the team could perform without him if needs be.

Experienced backmen Shannon Hurn and Brad Sheppard could fill the void, along with emerging defenders Josh Rotham and Oscar Allen.

“We need to think about what Hawthorn bring as well,” Simpson said.

“We’ll work through that. Rotham has been playing well as well at WAFL level (and) Oscar Allen has played back before. There’s a few options there.”

Simpson suggested match committee might have a long night ahead of them as they pondered how to support Nic Naitanui in the ruck and settle on a forward line that might boast both Willie Rioli and Jarrod Cameron.

He confirmed Naitanui would play limited minutes at the MCG and that Cameron was a good chance to hold his spot in the side after kicking two goals and sticking seven tackles on debut against Essendon last Thursday night.

On selecting Naitanui’s sidekick, Simpson said: “I think it’s going to be more than a support act. We’ve gone okay at the moment without Nic being out there, so it’s more how do we continue to develop what we’ve got and then get better with Nic in the side. We’d like to think we’d get better, but there’s no guarantees in that. It will take a bit of time to figure out.”

And on Cameron’s possible inclusion he stated: “I thought he was pretty good, Cammo. Willie will come back into the side, so we’ll work through that this afternoon with match committee. (Cameron) gets my vote, so that holds a bit of sway at match committee.”