West Coast senior coach Adam Simpson hopes Willie Rioli’s return to training will restore a sense of normality to the small forward's life.
Rioli participated in his first session alongside his Eagles teammates at Mineral Resources Park this morning since being handed a provisional suspension from competing in the AFL or any WADA-compliant sport on the eve of West Coast’s semi-final bout with Geelong.
Pursuant to the terms of his provisional suspension, Rioli is allowed to train with the Eagles pending the final determination of the allegations against him.
Simpson said the playing group, coaching panel and staff were thrilled to have Rioli back on deck.
“A lot of our players and staff haven’t seen Willie since September, so it’s a great opportunity for him to reconnect with our players and our club,” Simpson said.
“He’s been home with his family. He’s been in Darwin in the Tiwis. I’ve caught up with him a couple of times.
“He’s got a baby due in a couple of months, so he needs to move on with his life at this stage as well.
“He’s been able to train since he left (before) that semi-final. We thought now is the time to get him back.
Simpson was not able to provide an update on the progress of Rioli’s case, explaining that little had transpired since the announcement of Rioli’s provisional suspension.
However, he said the club would endeavour to offer more information when it came to light.
“These processes take a long time,” he explained.
“We understand there are a lot of questions. We’ve got the same questions as well.
“It’s not in our hands. We can’t give you an update on proceedings. They haven’t told us.
“We’re pretty transparent with this situation at the moment and we’re hoping to give you as much information as we can, but at the moment there’s not much to give. We know that he can train with us and that’s about it.
"Our main concern at the moment is his health and wellbeing and making sure that he’s in a good physical state as well."
Simpson was in a position to shed some light on the progress of injured stars Tom Barrass and Jeremy McGovern.
He said Barrass had resumed training following pre-Christmas foot surgery and that McGovern (heel) was increasing his output with a view to playing in at least one of the club’s upcoming Marsh Community Series fixtures.
The senior coach was also hopeful that Oscar Allen, who underwent surgery to remedy a hernia in December, would be available to play in the pre-season hitouts.