Shai Bolton in action during round two, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

WEST Coast will take a plan for Richmond goalkicking star Shai Bolton into Sunday's clash at Optus Stadium, but coach Adam Simpson knows there are no guarantees of success when trying to combat the livewire Tiger. 

Bolton, who kicked 5.6 across his two games against the Eagles last season, has kicked 11 goals this season and earned the maximum 10 coaches' votes for his game-breaking four-goal performance against St Kilda last Sunday at Norwood Oval. 

Quelling the forward/midfield star shapes as a job for versatile West Coast defender Brady Hough, with Simpson working through options at the club's main training session at Optus Stadium on Thursday. 

"I suspect every team has a plan, and he seems to get around it every week. He's done a lot of damage on us over the years, and we've got to put some work into him," Simpson said. 

"He spends so much time up the ground as well, so that's where they get you. You think you've got them covered, and then they go on-ball for a bit and do some damage there. 

"We'll work on that and do a bit today and see how we go … it's a challenge every week for some of our younger players to get some roles on some older players on opposition teams."

Brady Hough gets a handball away during round two, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Eagles forward Tyler Brockman has cleared concussion protocols and trained with the group on Thursday, while wingman Luke Edwards and forward Ryan Maric were also involved and are in the mix this week after hamstring and ribs concerns respectively. 

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Simpson revealed that the hard work of premiership forward Jack Darling had been recognised with the team's trademark award following the 26-point loss to Sydney in Gather Round, with the coach pleased with the recent improvement in his game.

"His energy and effort to compete was back to where we like it. The hands on the footy and getting rewarded for the work, he didn't get that on the weekend, but we'll take that first part of his game every day of the week," the coach said. 

"We backed him in, he's rewarded us with some effort, and now if we can get a few easy goals for him, that's the next step." 

Tyler Brockman in action during a West Coast intraclub match on February 17, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

A much-improved team performance against Sydney had provided more evidence for Simpson that certain elements of the team's game style were improving, with a focus so far on pressure, contest, and front half football. 

The coach wouldn't be drawn, however, on whether Sunday's clash against coach Adem Yze's 1-4 Tigers was the winless Eagles' best chance so far at snaring four points. 

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"We go into every game thinking we can win to be honest. So while we're chasing these smaller goals, we go in positive every week," he said.  

"They've got a new coach, but their DNA seems familiar. That combined with Adem's new style is pretty dangerous. 

"They've been in every game they've played, and they've had a tough draw as well."

Richmond looks dejected after a loss against St Kilda on April 7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Addressing a players' only meeting after the round three loss to the Western Bulldogs that has been credited with sparking an improved performance against the Swans, Simpson said: "I think it was great that we stayed in Melbourne after the Bulldogs game. 


"The coaches were pretty clear on where we needed to improve and where the game's at, and I think the players took that and really tried to execute it on the track. Then we carried it through the game. 

"It probably just tells you where we're at, how important training is, training the right things, and the leaders leading."