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Why Adam Simpson deserves to stay at West Coast

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Roar Rookie
6th May, 2022

West Coast Eagles coach Adam Simpson can’t take a trick.

It’s hard to remember a coach having to combat such an onslaught of misfortune after just seven rounds. The Eagles have been savaged by injuries and ravaged by COVID-19.

There appeared to be a glimmer of hope with the club’s stunning win against the Pies in Round 4. The victory turned sour with the news star ruckman Nic Naitanui damaged his knee in the dying seconds of the game, ruling him out for up to 12 weeks.

Just when you thought West Coast’s disastrous season couldn’t become anymore abysmal after the Tigers demolished the Eagles last Friday night, Adam Simpson tested positive to COVID on Thursday.

The 2018 premiership coach will miss the clash against the Brisbane Lions on Saturday night. Remarkably, COVID and injuries have reduced the Eagles to just 22 fit players.

West Coast’s farcical season had truly dipped into the bizarre. You almost expect to hear the Eagles’ bus was abducted by aliens en route to the Gabba.

But the endless calamities endured by West Coast are putting undue pressure on Simpson. Sometimes, it’s not the coach’s fault.

The growing, cackling chorus of AFL commentators calling for him to be sacked is unjust. Simpson deserves to be at the club next season, based on their COVID battle alone.

Adam Simpson addresses the Eagles

(Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

The Eagles’ football manager Gavin Bell said in a statement on Thursday the club had ventured into “unprecedented times”. The comment requires no hyperbole.

“As it stands we have 22 available AFL-listed players with the remainder either injured or in AFL Health and Safety Protocols,” Bell said.

“The club has eight staff and players – including Greg Clark who made an impressive debut last week – currently in AFL Health and Safety protocols.”

The injury-ravaged Eagles will again have to access their 20-player contingency list just to put a team on the park against the red-hot Lions.

Skipper Luke Shuey and dynamic small forward Willie Rioli will also miss the game with hamstring injuries.

West Coast’s horror season continued on Thursday after the club had to postpone their WAFL match game against East Fremantle on Saturday because the Eagles can’t provide the minimum three AFL-listed players.


You wouldn’t begrudge West Coast for waving the white flag.

There is no denying the Eagles have served up some shocking performances so far this season. But even the harshest critics of West Coast’s woeful form would agree the club has had a terrible run of injuries and COVID-19 dramas.

Only veteran Shannon Hurn and former Richmond player Patrick Naish have turned out for every game. And Naish only signed on for the Eagles in March via the pre-season supplemental selection period.

But despite the club being plunged into a COVID crisis, some commentators haven’t wasted time putting the boot into Simpson.

AFL shock jock Kane Cornes said West Coast should sack Simpson and have a “massive crack” at four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson. It’s hard to take Cornes seriously at times, given the former Port Adelaide provocateur dishes up some controversial claptrap once a week.

But Cornes isn’t alone. Former Fremantle Dockers great and respected footy commentator Paul Hasleby said West Coast should part ways with Simpson.


The Eagles shouldn’t be drawing up the divorce papers just yet.

Tim Kelly of the Eagles gathers the ball.

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

It is abundantly clear West Coast have underperformed since winning the premiership in 2018. And the club’s managing of their list has been dubious at times.

The Eagles sold the farm to get former Geelong player Tim Kelly to the club in 2019 in the hope of winning another flag. Given Naitanui, Andrew Gaff and Brad Sheppard missed the 2018 grand final, recruiting Kelly appeared to be a smart move.

Kelly has been serviceable but West Coast’s premiership window has been slammed shut and the house has collapsed.

Simpson has also come under fire for his unimaginative game plan, which many football pundits have called outdated. And West Coast’s lack of top draft picks means there isn’t a lot of young talent coming through.

There are still doubts whether the club’s first-round draft pick from last year, Campbell Chesser, will even play this season.


There is no disguising the fact West Coast have been horrible in most games. The club will more than likely claim their second wooden spoon this year.

Simpson’s coaching style hasn’t always been impeccable but West Coast have only missed the finals twice during his nine-year reign. He coached the Eagles to a losing grand final in his second season and won the flag three years later. Most clubs would take that.

Simpson is contracted until the end of 2024 but the jungle drums will be beating louder around him if the Eagles continue to get thumped in the coming weeks.

He doesn’t deserve it. But AFL clubs aren’t in the business of being charitable to their coaches after finishing last.

The Eagles just need to pull out the red pen and put a line through 2022. Everything that could go wrong has.

Simpson should be able to redeem himself next season. But not all AFL coaches get the redemption they warrant.