West Coast Eagles senior coach Adam Simpson got more than he bargained for out of the club’s first full-squad hitout at Mineral Resources Park this morning.
While fans were eager to get their first glimpse of recent draftees Callum Jamieson, Ben Johnson, Anthony Treacy and Mitch O’Neill, Simpson was especially chuffed to see veterans Josh Kennedy and Nic Naitanui out on the paddock.
The club’s all-time leading goal-kicker and talismanic ruckman have been a rare sight on the training track in summers past.
Kennedy has missed the previous two summer slogs due to post-season surgeries, while Naitanui trained away from the main group for the entire 2019 pre-season as he recovered from his second knee reconstruction.
That’s why Simpson was particularly pleased to see them slugging it out in 35 degree heat alongside their senior counterparts, who returned to training today.
“It’s an interesting case with JK. He’s missed the opportunity to train for pre-season probably three year in a row,” Simpson said.
“He actually hasn’t had a full crack at pre-season for three or four years.
“The good thing is he’s training today. It’s a good opportunity to get some kilometres in the legs again and remind himself what it’s like to do a pre-season. He’s excited about that, but we’ll manage him the right way. Hopefully we see him on the track a bit more this pre-season.
“(Naitanui) should be training today as well. Once again, he needed the rest at the end of the season with his ankle.
“There was a pretty significant decision to be made just before the finals if we let him play or we the surgery and we opted to let him play and he got through. We’ve rested him over the break, so we’ll see how he pulls up today and we’ll manage him through.”
However, Simpson will have to wait a little longer to get his hands on Jeremy McGovern, who recently underwent surgery to remedy a heel ailment that troubled him throughout 2019.
The senior coach said the four-time all-Australian was recovering well and on track to be available for the club’s opening Marsh Community Series fixture against Essendon on February 28.
“He carried it for a large part of (last) season,” Simpson said about McGovern’s injury.
“We thought rest would probably fix the situation. It’s minor, not a big issue, and JK went through a similar thing last year.
“The only thing they do is miss a bit of training and a bit of continuity for the season, but we expect him to be right for (Marsh Community Series) one.”