Jeremy McGovern in action during the match between Melbourne and West Coast at the MCG in round 17, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

WEST Coast defender Jeremy McGovern has been taken to hospital with suspected rib and lung damage following a final-quarter collision in the Eagles' loss to Melbourne.

While coach Adam Simpson was sketchy on the details, he said the veteran backman was in doubt to fly home with the team on Sunday night.

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"McGovern has been sent to hospital with some sort of lung or rib issue, we will need to make sure he is okay to fly home today," Simpson said.

The Demons' comprehensive 54-point win over West Coast poured more heat on the embattled coach after a difficult week.


But Simpson insists he's at peace with his football mortality as pressure mounts on him after the Eagles' sixth consecutive defeat left them sitting third-last on the ladder with a 3-13 record.

The veteran coach was desperate to see a strong on-field response after reports emerged mid-week of three players expressing their discontent towards him in a leaked chain of text messages.

The 48-year-old's contract runs until the end of 2025, but a poor end to this season could spell the end of his 11-year reign.

"I'm here to do a job as best I can and I'll do that until I get tapped on the shoulder," Simpson said.

"That's not really a question.

"I know how long the road's going to be and I'm up for it, but if the club's not then they're not.

"That's fine. I'm OK with my football mortality."


Simpson was unmoved when quizzed again about the text-message leak.

"There's always someone who's disgruntled," he said.

"We can't apologise for trying to get better. You'd be pretty upset if everyone was really happy.

"We'll keep working on it, we'll stay resilient and I'll try to lead as best as I can."


Melbourne livewrire Kysaiah Pickett kicked two goals and provided the highlight of the day in front of 32,000 fans with a perfect ride on Josh Rotham's back to haul in a spectacular mark.

"He's a pretty special talent," Demons coach Simon Goodwin said.

"When he plays with the pressure that he played with today and throws in the skills that he has, it's pretty exciting for our supporters. They loved it."


Goodwin hailed the impact of an emerging band of youngsters in helping Melbourne rediscover its identity in its push for a finals berth.

Jacob van Rooyen booted 4.4 in a strong display in attack, while Trent Rivers, Koltyn Tholstrup, Caleb Windsor and Judd McVee were all important contributors.

"These are the guys that we've invested a fair bit of time into now and our footy club's evolving on the back of those guys," Goodwin said.

"We're certainly finding our identity again and the way that we want to play, and our younger players are starting to drive it forward.

"That's exciting for us and we've still got enormous growth in us, but if we stick to the way that we're playing right now we'll keep building as the year goes on."


The Demons are evolving after the loss of Angus Brayshaw (retired - concussion) over the off-season and Christian Petracca's season-ending internal injuries last month.

The pair left huge holes in the Demons' line-up, while fellow premiership star Clayton Oliver has also been below his best this season.

"When there's adversity there's always opportunity and that's what we really focused in on," Goodwin said.

"Two really experienced players (Brayshaw and Petracca) had a huge impact for us as a team, and it provides opportunity for Trent Rivers to go into the midfield and for Koltyn Tholstrup to come into the team.

"We changed a bit of a look of how we want to play and our coaches have done a good job at trying to adapt to the personnel we've got and give them some simplicity in how we play.

"They've really embraced it and it's good to see."


Experienced forward Jake Melksham gave Goodwin further cause for optimisim, kicking two goals against West Coast on return from a long-term knee injury.

The 32-year-old ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in round 24 last season and missed the Demons' finals series, before being handed a career lifeline with a one-year deal for 2024.

"He's not only the player that we need in our front half - he's the leader we need," Goodwin said.

"He's such an important piece to us and he's done so much work to get himself right.

"We saw today he has a pretty profound impact on our forward-half game, so it's great to see him out there.

"I'm really proud of him."


Goodwin brushed off concerns over Max Gawn's sore right ankle, declaring the skipper's final-quarter substitution against West Coast nothing more than a precautionary measure.

Gawn is expected to be fit to play in the Demons' huge clash with fourth-placed Essendon at the MCG on Saturday night.

Melbourne's win put them within touching distance of the top eight, sitting outside the finals on percentage with a 9-7 record.