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2021 VFL & VFLW Awards

The 2021 VFL and VFLW Awards Ceremony will be held on Thursday October 7 from 6.30 AEDT to recognise and reward the outstanding year of football in the VFL and rebel VFLW Competition. The major virtual event will be broadcast across the VFL websit...

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WEST Coast prized draftee Campbell Chesser has started the long drive across Australia to start his AFL career and will spend Christmas in quarantine to ensure he can join his new teammates in the new year.

Chesser was the only new Eagle drafted from outside Western Australia, with the club sliding down the order to pick No.14 before snaring the classy right-footer last month.

With the 18-year-old Sandringham Dragons product eager to join the club after the Christmas break, Simpson said he had started his journey from Victoria. 

New Eagle Campbell Chesser. Picture: Getty Images

"Young Campbell is driving over as we speak and he's going to spend Christmas in quarantine, which is tough for a 17-year-old, but that shows you his commitment," the coach said.   

"It wasn't something we demanded at all. We think family is pretty important, especially over the Christmas period. But he's pretty keen to get here.

"I think he's arriving in Adelaide in the next couple of days. He'll do what he has to do there then he'll get over here and quarantine if he can."

With the Eagles' senior stars returning to training on Monday, Simpson said there would be several players who are managed during the early sessions before training ramped up in the new year.

Star defender Jeremy McGovern has bounced back well from post-season hip surgery, while gun forward Liam Ryan, who experienced a stress reaction in his shin last year, is being managed.

"We've just got to be careful with what happened last year," Simpson said.  

"He came back hot and trained really well. We've just got to manage his body, so we've backed him off for the next four or five sessions. Then we'll get going from there."

The premiership coach was encouraged by small forward Willie Rioli's early form on the track and excited to see the 26-year-old play pre-season games after missing the past two seasons because of breaches of the AFL's anti-doping code.   

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"He'll be in training, but he'll be out of certain things. He's connected really well with the players, and it feels like he hasn't missed a beat," Simpson said.   

"I can't wait to see him play to be honest with some of the things he does at training. He hasn't lost his talent."

Players in WA, Queensland and South Australia have until January 21 to receive their first COVID-19 vaccination dose and must be full vaccinated by February 18 to attend their clubs and continue pre-season.

Simpson said he was not concerned about any West Coast players being unavailable after the deadlines.

"Not particularly. I think the cut-off date is January 21, so we'll let that take its course. I've got no real concerns," the coach said.