West Coast coach Adam Simpson is ‘furious and disappointed’ after the club confirmed in a statement several players attended a Perth nightclub last Saturday night.
With the Eagles in the midst of a player availability crisis and set to require WAFL top-up players to complete their side to face Brisbane, photos of players at a popular club in Leederville were published by The West Australian.
According to the report, the players at the club included Jackson Nelson, who is unavailable for the Eagles’ clash with Brisbane on Saturday night due to COVID.
With Western Australia still dealing with a sizeable outbreak of the virus, having only opened their borders to the rest of Australia in recent months, the Eagles have released a statement expressing their disappointment in the players involved.
“The club has gone to great lengths in educating the players around the need to adhere to club guidelines and it is beyond disappointing that they have put themselves in this situation,” the statement reads.
“It is particularly disheartening given the strain on player availability at this stage of the season.
“At the earliest opportunity the club will meet with the players concerned.”
Eight Eagles, including players and coaching staff, have entered health and safety protocols this week, including Simpson, who added in the statement: “I am furious and disappointed with the actions of these players”.
The news comes after the Eagles’ availability crisisled to calls from around the footy world, including Richmond star Jack Riewoldt, to postpone their match against the Lions.
With Simpson in isolation, assistant coach Matthew Knights will take the reins for what looms as one of the most one-sided AFL matches in recent memory.
Speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360, Riewoldt, whose Tigers thrashed the Eagles by 109 points last week, said forcing them to play despite the current state of their list is ‘unfair’.
“That injury list there and COVID protocol list – it‘s unfair,” he said.
“The reason they’re in this situation is because their government held different border restrictions to the rest of Australia. That’s not West Coast or Fremantle’s fault.
“But now they’re certainly paying a heavy price for it, or certainly West Coast are paying a heavier price than Fremantle so far.
“They’ve got four blokes that they are going to call from WAFL – not only is it affecting the AFL but then the teams that they’re picking from the Western Australian Football League is affected too.”
Among Riewoldt’s concerns is that the Eagles’ situation jeopardises the integrity of the competition, not only depriving them of a fair chance at competing in 2022, but allowing their opponents a crucial leg-up on the rest of the league.
“Let‘s say Brisbane play about half a West Coast side and have a big win – we [Richmond] gained 20 per cent last week. That’s massive,” he said.
“You play West Coast twice this year, a depleted West Coast – which is nothing to do with them – then you’re getting 40, 30 per cent. That’s huge when finals roll around.”
However, the only allowance the AFL is giving the Eagles is an extra 24 hours to name their team for the match, which must be lodged by 5:30pm (AEST) on Friday afternoon.
Richmond fans (and lovers of headline puns) are rejoicing after star defender Jayden Short signed a long-term deal to remain at Punt Road.
Short, who won the Tigers’ best and fairest in their 2020 premiership season, has inked a five-year contract extension, tying him to the club until at least 2027.
The half-back, widely regarded as one of the best kicks in the AFL, said he was thrilled to re-commit to the Tigers.
“It is really exciting. I am very lucky and grateful for the Club giving me a long-term contract,” Short told Richmond Media.
“I want to repay the Club; I have had some very good times here already, and I am looking forward to the next five years.”
Short is one of the more remarkable success stories of the Tigers’ triple-premiership run, having transformed from a speculative rookie draft selection in 2014 to become a crucial role in the club’s 2019 and 2020 flags.
The 26-year old is in All Australian form to start 2022, accumulating an AFL-high 171 kicks in the first seven rounds at more than 24 per game.
A recent move to the midfield has also borne fruit, with Short one of the best afield in the Tigers’ thumping win over West Coast after a 31-disposal game.
Chad Wingard is in doubt for Hawthorn’s Saturday night clash with Essendon, with the forward suffering from a non-COVID illness.
Wingard is due to play his 200th AFL match, having started his career at Port Adelaide between 2012 and 2018, but missed the Hawks’ Friday morning captain’s run after reportedly waking up sick.
The 28-year old, who has already missed matches due to ankle, hamstring and calf issues in 2022, was scheduled to appear at a press conference on Friday morning, but needed to be replaced by teammate Luke Breust.
“He just felt pretty ordinary,” Breust said of Wingard’s condition.
“Unfortunately for him, it’s meant to be 200 games this week, so it would have been great to celebrate that milestone.”
Despite missing training, Breust said the Hawks would give Wingard ‘every chance’ to take on the Bombers.
“It will probably just be a game time decision to see whether he can get up or not,” Breust said.
“Hopefully he can turn the corner in the next 24 hours and be a chance to play.”
Wingard arrived at the Hawks as a dual All Australian with the Power, but injuries and form have prevented him from hitting those heights at his new home.
He has kicked at least one goal in all five of the Hawks’ matches so far in 2022, while he finished 2021 in fine form in a new midfield role, winning eight Brownlow Medal votes in the final four rounds.