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Simpson flags a rest for flagging Eagles

Nic Naitanui and Jon Ceglar do battle in the ruck - AFL,Adam Simpson,West Coast Eagles
Nic Naitanui and Jon Ceglar do battle in the ruck

WEST Coast coach Adam Simpson has flagged the possibility of giving key players a mid-season break.

Simpson said some players were struggling with fitness following the hard-fought win against Hawthorn, with the ladder leaders facing a home game against St Kilda next Saturday night before their bye.  

"We had a couple of sore boys who managed to get through the game. We'll have to look at that and see how they pull up," Simpson said.

"They've been going pretty hard for a while now, so that's why it's so important with these kids coming through play their role when they come in."

SIMMO SPEAKS: Watch the coach's full media conference

Returning ruckman Nic Naitanui had limited game time and was treated for back soreness during spells on the bench, defender Elliot Yeo wore heavy strapping on his right knee and Chris Masten has hamstring issues.

Simpson said the Eagles were unchanged for the first time this season and he acknowledged the physical exertion in the low-scoring slog against the dogged Hawks.

"They play a pretty solid brand of footy that has been well established for a long period of time; they would have to have 11 or 12 premiership players in that side. That comes with maturity as well, they were a bit older than us," he said.

 

"For the most part, they played their way and we played ours and it came down to just a few moments here and there."

Simpson said the Eagles had identified the possibility that Hawthorn might swing in tall Jon Ceglar to try to combat Naitanui and Scott Lycett in the ruck duels.

On the issue of late changes, he said: "That's happening a lot this season. Every second week, there seems to be a strategic change that's late that's got nothing to do with injury.

"Maybe that's in the rules and if it's in the rules, you can do it. Sometimes you want to give someone until the last minute, especially if it's someone of influence.

"I sort of get that, but when it's just a strategic move, sometimes that's hard to do when you travel."

Simpson said he didn't see the first quarter incident when forward Willie Rioli touched field umpire Ray Chamberlain as he was given a 50m penalty.

 

"We want to respect the umpires and we want make sure we acknowledge that touching them is no-go. But there's a human part of it as well," the Eagles coach said.

"I hope it doesn't go any further than that, but in the environment right now, it's probably not the right thing to do. But having said that, they're human and we want to try to ensure we engage these umps on a positive note. How's that for a bit of a campaign for the week?

"He (Rioli) gave away another 50, which is his average. But apart from that, he was pretty special. We understand he's only a six- or seven-game player in his second year, but he's fitting into our forward line really well. They're all playing their roles and we're spreading the load.

"Jack Darling didn't kick a goal, but he still played a really important role for us in the way we set up, (Jake) Waterman as well, and it really complements what we're doing there."

On the score review focus again this round, Simpson said: "It appears a little bit off at the moment. So what's the way going forward? Probably need to look at it, but I don't know whether there were too many howlers today,

"We're probably not backing in the umpire's feel as much as we probably should, but I don't want to get into the debate. There's issues around the AFL that are always important to discuss, but I've got my eye pretty closely on how we're performing at the moment."