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West Coast coach quits after bizarre comments about fixture: 'I believe it is time for a new voice'

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25th October, 2023
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Michael Prior has quit as West Coast’s AFLW coach, less than two weeks after his “unacceptable” fixturing controversy.

Following a 70-point loss to Melbourne in round seven, Prior blasted the decision to pit the struggling Eagles against defending premiers Melbourne, saying: “How we play that team is beyond me. That is what you get when you get fixturing like that.”

He later backtracked on the criticism, labelling his comments as “unacceptable”.

Since taking the reins of the women’s team in 2022, Prior’s Eagles have won just five of 28 games and sit third from the bottom this year.

The club registered their second victory last round against Essendon, after what captain Emma Swanson called a “horror week”.

“I’ll leave on a high after being a part of an exciting win at Windy Hill on Sunday,” Prior said on Wednesday.

“I made the decision earlier in the season that this would be my last as senior coach and I believe the time is right to now step aside.

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“I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the role as senior coach of this amazing group.

“There is exciting upside for these players moving forward, but after three seasons I believe it is time for a new voice.”

Prior had also come under fire in his first season at the helm, saying “I think we’ve done the pride stuff to death to be honest” when asked about the club’s lack of a Pride Round guernsey.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 03: Michael Prior, Senior Coach of the Eagles addresses the players at the break during the 2023 AFLW Round 01 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the West Coast Eagles at Fremantle Oval on September 03, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Michael Prior. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

He later clarified his comments, saying “footy is a game for everyone” and that he had preferred to focus about the football rather than the lack of a specific guernsey.

Assistant coach Rohan McHugh will fill the head coach role for the final two games of 2023, while Prior resumes his role within Community and Game Development at the club.

West Coast chief Trevor Nisbett acknowledged the contribution of Prior in his three seasons.

“Michael assumed the role in difficult circumstances where our AFLW team played two seasons in the same year,” Nisbett said.

“I would like to thank him for his commitment to the program and for the role he has played in shaping what we believe is a squad capable of evolving into a formidable team.

“We will play out the season and then navigate our way forward as we search for a senior coach.”

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