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AFL NEWS: Simpson ‘looks shot’ but ready for fight, Blues in finals range, Dangerfield pushing for return

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3rd May, 2022
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West Coast coach Adam Simpson is defiant that he wants to lead the club long term despite claims he looks jaded as the team undertakes a significant rebuild.

The Eagles have had a horrendous 1-6 start to the season, including a 109-point flogging at the hands of Richmond on the weekend and questions have been raised about whether Simpson, who guided them to their 2018 grand final success, wants to oversee what could be a long and painful rebuilding process.

Simpson told Channel 7 in Perth that the Eagles “didn’t provide any real challenge” to the Tigers and they had plenty of work to do in order to salvage their season.

“We’ve explored the whole list so far this year and it’ll happen again this week with some more injuries and more COID restrictions that are coming our way.

“Rebuild, transition, call it what you need to. We need to look at our whole list this year and make some changes.

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“This is a moment in time, it’s a real challenging time, so we need to show some resilience but I’ll be here as long as the club wants me here and I’m up for the fight.

“I haven’t read too much of the news or watched too much telly so I can only get on with my job and do the best I can with what we’ve got at the moment, that’s all I can do.”

They face a daunting trip to the Gabba on Saturday to face the in-form Brisbane Lions and Simpson said defender Tom Barass (hamstring) should be OK to play but Elliot Yeo was doubtful as he recovers from a head knock while Jackson Nelson and Alex Witherden would be out after entering COVID-19 isolation.

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AFL legend Kane Cornes on Channel 9’s Footy Classified said it would take “five or six years” to build up a stockpile of draft picks to be title contenders again.

“The question has to be: Is Adam Simpson the guy? A terrific coach, a premiership coach, he looks exhausted to me. He looks shot, I‘ve never seen him so flustered when he fronts the media. 

“This is year nine. I don’t think he’s going to be there for the next five to six years to do what Fremantle have done and to be prepared to go through that pain until you can get the top-end talent into your club and then turn it around.”

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Blues not daring to dream finals yet

Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps is happy to enjoy the ride rather than focus on the destination of playing AFL finals football.

For the first time since Cripps debuted in 2014 the Blues are in the top eight after seven rounds, banking five wins to sit sixth. But the 27-year-old didn’t want to think about playing in September just yet.

“I’m not thinking that far ahead yet,” the star midfielder said on Tuesday. “It’s the best place we’ve been in since I’ve been here and it’s been a lot of hard work over a lot of years to get to this point, but we feel like we’re only scratching the surface of what we can do. 

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“We will find ways to keep getting better and as we keep improving I feel we’ll be in a stronger position in the back half of the year.”

Last round Carlton crushed hapless North Melbourne, in a game Cripps described as their “best four-quarter” performance of the year under new coach Michael Voss.

Cripps didn’t want to compare Voss and his previous coaches at the Blues but said the former Brisbane Lions champion had built self-belief amongst the players.

“His relationships with players has been unbelievable, in terms of building their confidence and I feel he’s getting the most out of a lot of guys,” he said.

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Cripps underlined his status as the Brownlow Medal favourite with 35 disposals, including 10 clearances, against the Kangaroos.

With a clash looming with Adelaide on Sunday he said the midfield group around him was allowing him to play his best football.

Dangerfield pushing for return

Patrick Dangerfield will push his case for an AFL return this week while his Geelong teammate Max Holmes undergoes ankle surgery.

Impressive 19-year-old Holmes suffered a syndesmosis injury during the Cats’ defeat to Fremantle in round seven.

“(Holmes) will have surgery on that which will rule him out for the short-to-medium term,” Geelong head of medical and conditioning services Harry Taylor said. 

“Max has completed a large body of work and we expect him to begin his rehab program before resuming and having an influence in our AFL team.

“He’s having surgery (on Monday) afternoon and will begin his rehabilitation program from there.”

Dangerfield has missed the past two rounds because of a corked calf but could return in Saturday’s clash with GWS.

The explosive midfielder-forward had a quadriceps injury earlier in the season, with the two issues combining to limit his ability to train until now.

“Pat has completed several solid conditioning sessions and his availability will be assessed later in the week,” Taylor said.

No.1 ruckman Rhys Stanley (ankle) and midfielder Sam Menegola (knee soreness) are both chances to play against the Giants in Canberra.

Mengola had knee surgery in December and is yet to play a senior game this season.

Meanwhile, Fremantle have confirmed spearhead Matt Taberner will miss up to four weeks with the hamstring injury that ruled him out of their Geelong clash.

Dockers captain Nat Fyfe (back) is hopeful of playing his first match of the year before the bye, while ruckman Sean Darcy (concussion) could return against North Melbourne on Friday night.

Young defenders Hayden Young and Heath Chapman have both exited COVID-19 protocols and could return for the round eight game at Optus Stadium.

Demons coach back at helm

Melbourne feared their stocks would be decimated last week as a COVID-19 wave swept through the AFL club, coach Simon Goodwin says.

Goodwin was one of nine members of the Demons’ football department sidelined through health and safety protocols when the premiers took on Hawthorn in Round 7.

Assistant coach Adem Yze took the reins in Goodwin’s absence, steering the ladder leaders to a 10-point victory that maintained their perfect record for the season.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing.

“On the Wednesday, when we lost nine people from our department in one hit, there was certainly an increased risk for the rest of the week,” Goodwin told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.

“There was alarm bells going off everywhere at that point.

“We had five staff and four players go down on the one day so that had the potential to blow out to another 10 possibly from a staff and player perspective that haven’t had COVID at this point.

“And we’re lucky enough that we haven’t had too many reinfections at this point, so there’s a number of people that still haven’t had it.

“There was that risk that it was going to blow out to a few more but they did a great job to contain it.

“We changed our program slightly and made sure we could mitigate the risk where possible.”

Stuck at home in isolation, Goodwin had a direct line to Demons football manager Alan Richardson in the coaches’ box during the Hawthorn game.

“I was probably a little bit more emotional sitting at home in the lounge room than what I would be at the game because you’re not actually really in the moment,” Goodwin said.

“It was very quiet here, there was really no noise, so I was certainly able to analyse the game and give some input when needed but it was a different experience.”

Goodwin confirmed he will resume regular duties this week, with Melbourne set to take on St Kilda on Sunday.

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