Eagles coach stands firm amid talk of player unrest

Justin Chadwick |

West Coast coach Adam Simpson is standing firm despite talk of unrest among some of his players.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson is standing firm despite talk of unrest among some of his players.

West Coast coach Adam Simpson insists he won’t embark on a “witch hunt” despite rumours several players are disgruntled and want him moved on as coach.

Simpson put on a brave face in front of the media on Friday morning, hours after a report emerged in a local newspaper detailing a text-message leak in which three players expressed their discontent towards the 2018 premiership coach.

The 48-year-old’s contract runs until the end of 2025, but a poor end to this season could spell the end of his 11-year reign.

West Coast had shown big signs of improvement earlier this season, but a 99-point loss to Adelaide in May and last week’s 61-point home defeat by Hawthorn have cast the spotlight back on Simpson.

The Eagles (3-12) have lost six games by 50 or more points this season.

The defeat to Hawthorn was particularly horrendous given the Eagles fielded their strongest side in years.

Simpson is adamant he still has the support of the player group and pointed out it’s unrealistic to expect every player to be happy at a club, no matter how well they are going.

“It’s not ideal but it’s not uncommon either,” he said.

“It happened when I was under Denis (Pagan), when I was working with Clarko (Alastair Clarkson) – it happens all the time.

“I won’t be checking everyone’s phones, put it that way.

“We’ve got 15 to 20 players who don’t get a game every week, we’ve got probably 10 players who will be off the list at the end of the year.

“So there’s always people who are disgruntled. It’s just part of the job. We can’t apologise for trying to get better, but I think I’ve still got the players (backing).”

Simpson will address the issue with his player group on Friday before the team flies out for Sunday’s clash with Melbourne at the MCG.

West Coast mentor Adam Simpson says its not unusual for some players to feel aggrieved in a squad. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

“I’ll talk to the boys at the airport today (to) take the sting out of it, because I’m not on a witch hunt,” Simpson said.

“It’s not that at all. It’s a little bit grubby from the paper’s point of view, but that’s fine. You guys are doing your job and I’ll just do mine.”

Asked what he will say to his players, Simpson replied: “You’re overplaying it a little bit, just because you’ve seen three players have sent text messages to each other.

“It’s our lives, we deal with it every day. I’ll just talk to the players today and we’ll try to unite and be better on the weekend.”

Simpson played down the prospect of him walking away from the club.

“I’m committed to the build,” he said.

“We’re starting. We’re at the beginning.

“I know the two previous years were difficult to get anything from that – the traction from COVID and injuries and availability.

“But we’re legitimately starting that build now and … it’s going to take time.

“Whoever is coaching at West Coast, it’s a longer-term direction we’re going in.”

Despite three years of struggles, Simpson said he is still energised for the role.

“I love my job,” he said.

“I don’t think everyone wants my job at the moment, but it’s a tremendous environment.

“I love the club, I love the players and I love coaching, so there’s no issues there.”

Eagles forward Jake Waterman (cut to the back of his knee) and defender Jeremy McGovern (thumb) have been cleared to take on the Demons.

Ruckman Matt Flynn (ankle) and forward Ryan Maric (dropped) go out of the side, with Jack Williams and Jack Hutchinson named as their replacements.

The Demons recalled Jake Melksham, Christian Salem and Jake Bowey in place of Harrison Petty (hamstring), Kynan Brown (omitted) and Adam Tomlinson (omitted).