THE SEVEN West Coast players who disobeyed the embattled Eagles' COVID-19 guidelines by partying at a Perth nightclub have been fined $5000, with half of that suspended.
Defenders Jackson Nelson and Josh Rotham were photographed partying at the nightclub only a day after West Coast suffered a humiliating 109-point loss at home to Richmond in round seven.
West Coast revealed on Monday afternoon that fellow Eagles Jake Waterman, rookie SSP recruits Hugh Dixon and Patrick Naish, first-round draftee Campbell Chesser and young defender Rhett Bazzo were also at the nightclub.
Nelson was one of up to eight players in the AFL's health and safety protocols ahead of last Saturday night's away clash with Brisbane and the undermanned Eagles were again forced to call on top-up players from the WAFL.
Coach Adam Simpson said the players need to earn back the trust of their teammates and the club.
"They’re very remorseful. Obviously it’s an error in judgement and we’ll move on," Simpson told Channel 7 on Monday night.
"With the current environment and where we’re at, it’s just really poor judgement from those boys.
"They’ve got a bit of trust to earn back from the playing group and the club.
"Some of the guys should know better, some of the guys are young and are learning as they go through their careers.
"It’s just the timing. Where we’re at right now as a football club, we need all hands on deck, we need to be on the same page."
West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett said the club would have suspended the players for one game if the list hadn't been ravaged by injuries and COVID-19.
“It (suspending players) would be really difficult to do that at the moment with our player availability," Simpson said.
"I don’t think we can draw upon WAFL players through this instance."
The AFL Players Association responded to the fines on Monday, saying it did not support rules prohibiting players from entering venues, nor the sanctions handed down by West Coast.
"Over the past three seasons, AFL players have gone above and beyond to enable the competition to continue despite the challenges caused by the pandemic," AFLPA general manager of player and stakeholder relations Brett Murphy said.
"Among other things, players have been required to relocate, at short notice and on several occasions, and have lived by restrictions which have gone beyond those imposed on other members of society.
"However, with the community now seeking to live with COVID-19, the industry has made the decision to move away from these rules and to allow players to live balanced lives.
"We have been in discussions with the club and players in recent days and will continue these."
Six of the seven Eagles fined by the club took part in Monday afternoon's training session at Mineral Resources Park, with first-year defender Rhett Bazzo not spotted.
Champion forward Josh Kennedy and star midfielder Elliot Yeo were other notable absentees for the afternoon session.
West Coast released a statement last Friday saying they were "devastated" any of their players had chosen to break trust with the club in such a precarious situation.
Nisbett hoped the players involved would learn from their mistakes.
"I know the other players are really disappointed because they’ve had to be extremely disciplined," Nisbett told SEN WA on Monday morning, before the players' identities and punishments were revealed.
"We’ve copped the worst of COVID but it doesn’t help if guys are going to go outside guidelines.
"We’ll get them all together ... it will be signed off (on Monday), then have to move forward.
"In normal circumstances some of the guys might have to face a suspension of a week or so but as it stands we aren’t in that position where we can afford to do that and that’s a problem in its own right.
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"My expectation is there will be a fine involved and those players will have to cop that sweet.
"The guys are pretty much ashamed and embarrassed of themselves but that doesn’t detract from the fact they did the wrong thing.
"We will deal with the seven guys in a professional manner and we hope this is a story and an education piece.
"It’s not a case of breaking a rule but it is a case of breaking trust."
The Eagles have been badly hit by COVID-19 as infections soared in Western Australia much later than in other states and territories.
Their issues have been complicated by a diabolical injury list that includes stars Nic Naitanui, Luke Shuey, Dom Sheed, Elliot Yeo and Willie Rioli.
West Coast sits bottom of the ladder at 1-7 with a percentage of 52 and could add a second wooden spoon to its last-place finish from 2010.