Sweeping changes are not a staple of Adam Simpson’s playbook, but the senior coach says West Coast needs a spark to reignite its 2020 campaign.
Simpson and his match committee made four changes to the club’s senior side following its heaviest defeat since entering its Queensland hub, a 48-point loss to ladder leaders Port Adelaide.
The selection panel omitted premiership defender Lewis Jetta and specialist ruckman Tom Hickey from the starting 22, bringing in fledglings Jackson Nelson and Oscar Allen to cover the experienced campaigners’ roles.
It was then forced in to two other changes following after Jarrod Brander incurred a minor hip injury and Will Schofield was suspended by the Match Review Officer for headbutting the Powers’ Zak Butters.
They elected to bring Jake Waterman back into the fold to cover Brander’s absence and, without hesitation, recalled four-time all Australian Jeremy McGovern, who missed two games due to a suspension of his own and injury.
Simpson said it wasn’t generally the West Coast way to make so many changes, but he conceded the Eagles had to try something different ahead of its crucial round five clash with arch rivals Sydney.
“We just want to pick a team that’s going to win,” Simpson said at his weekly press conference.
“We’ve made four changes this week and I think we made four last week. That’s not normally us, so we’re still trying to find the best mix in our side at the moment, because we’re not quite there obviously.
“When you don’t perform on field you need to make some changes in personnel and system. Once again this is not new, it’s what happens when you’re not delivering on the field as a team.”
Simpson said the vibe amongst the playing group was still positive in spite of the team’s inability to muster a win in the Sunshine State.
However, he conceded things needed to turn around quickly if his side had desires of playing at the pointy end of the season.
“The environment is good and the training standards are high, but we’re just not delivering on game day,” Simpson said.
“We’re backing the way we play, we’re backing our system and turning up with the right attitude. All of those things have been discussed, but it’s all about actions. It’s not that complicated to turn up to play and you need to play for four quarters.
“If we continue to lose there’ll be a point where we can’t claw our way back.
“Pressure is a privilege. We need to own it and embrace it.”
In more positive news, Nic Naitanui appears set to churn through some more minutes against the Swans tomorrow.
Simpson said the 2012 all-Australian ruckman was ready to increase his game time after showing steady progress following the season restart.
That declaration would undoubtedly be music to West Coast fans’ ears given that Sydney will be without its first-choice ruckmen, Sam Naismith and Callum Sinclair, who are both sidelined with injuries.
“Nic will probably play a few more minutes this week,” the senior coach said
“He’s probably building to that point where he can handle some more minutes.
“I think he played 61 or 62 minutes last week and I think he’s capable of more than that.”