West Coast will be leaving no man behind when they relocate to Queensland next week.
Eagles senior coach Adam Simpson confirmed yesterday that the club would take all of its available players to the Gold Coast, where they will set up a temporary home base at the Royal Pines Resort.
Speaking to 3AW’s Sportsday Victoria team, Simpson revealed that only Willie Rioli (suspension) and Daniel Venables (concussion) would remain in Western Australia while the team ventured east for what it hopes is a maximum four-week stay.
“It’s just too hard to split the group,” Simpson said.
“We’ve got a staff of 25, I think they’re going to give us a few extra staff to help with some of the logistics, but we can’t leave four or five or the younger players back here and split the staff up.
“Having said that, even if we did get more staff, I think we would still go as a full group anyway.
“We’re going to take everyone and really embrace the trip. Once we get sorted with all the protocols and the timings, it’s all systems go and it’s over to us to make sure the environment is one that the boys enjoy and we win footy (games).”
The AFL announced today that players who miss out on selection for senior games will be able to participate in match simulation sessions against other clubs in their respective state.
That means non-selected Eagles can square off against players from Gold Coast, Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Fremantle and Adelaide to stake their case for selection.
AFL General Manager Football Operations Steve Hocking said the arrangements prioritised the health and wellbeing of players and staff.
“This arrangement ensures we continue to support the health, wellbeing and motivation of non-selected players and allows clubs with the ability to provide non-selected players with match practice to ensure they are game-ready if required,” Hocking said.
“It also provides clubs with flexibility to determine individual requirements while maintaining the health protocols in place for our game.”
Simpson said the AFL’s allowance made West Coast’s decision to take 41 players to the Gold Coast logical.
“We’ve got Gold Coast first round and I think they’ve got 50 on their list, so I think there’s going to be an opportunity to have a scratch match or some sort of 15 versus 15 game or even to the point where they had 18 and we had 12, we could just grab a couple of their players and make it a 15 versus 15 (game), just so the guys have a bit of purpose in their week and something to look forward to and something we can assess too,” Simpson said.
“If we’re going to use players on our list, we want to see them play footy and compete so we can actually judge on who comes in and out. I think that’s been ticked off.”
Now that his travelling party is set, Simpson his more time to contemplate his strategy to take down the Suns.
The 2018 premiership coach said making a call on whether to play one ruck or two given the introduction of shorter quarters was at the forefront of his mind ahead of the club’s season restart on June 13.
“It does change a little bit with the new rules, with the game being shortened,” Simpson conceded.
“Because of Nic (Naitanui’s) ability to have an impact on the game, it’s tremendous, but it’s not sustainable for a full game. He probably plays 65 to 75 minutes. At the moment the game only goes for about 100 minutes, which is different from last year.
“One hundred and twenty minutes means you need a second ruck, so we’re actually working on what are we going to do with that second ruck position now.”