Adam Simpson ripped over 'disgraceful' response to West Coast fitness furore

Kane Cornes has lit up the West Coast Eagles after he was labelled a 'shock jock' by the club last year.

Adam Simpson gestures to a West Coast Eagles player during an AFL match.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson has copped criticism after players admitted to being below the required level of fitness last season. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Comments from West Coast Eagles coach Adam Simpson regarding his players' fitness have led AFL commentator Kane Cornes to launch into a tirade at the club, after he called them out over the issue last season. The Eagles were beset by injuries before the season even began, tumbling to a 17th place finish in 2022.

However Cornes had been fiercely critical of the Eagles in a dismal season that fans would hope was a one-off - suggesting in August that West Coast had come into the season 'not fit' and 'overweight'. In response he was labelled a 'shock jock' by West Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett.

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The Eagles are in much better shape heading into this season, entering without the injury dramas that dogged their last campaign. However, admissions from the likes of club captain Luke Shuey that criticism regarding their match fitness wasn't exactly off the mark has left Cornes fuming.

In a move sure to reignite some of the tension between Cornes and the Eagles brass, the former Port Adelaide star has seized on the admission from Shuey to take aim at the likes of Nisbett. Labelling the club's response to his comments last year as 'disgraceful', Cornes said the Eagles and coach Adam Simpson had done themselves a disservice by not simply owning the state they were in at the time.

“(Simpson should have said) We made some mistakes in our pre-season, I don’t think the players have been as hungry as I would have liked them to have been," Cornes told SEN WA. “Yep there’s been mitigating factors around that – part of that is some injuries they had, but that doesn’t excuse them for having a poor diet and letting themselves put on weight and get out of shape.

“There’s many exercises you can do that are non-weight bearing that can keep your fitness up. Of course they can word it in that way rather than come out and say ‘Nah, Kane Cornes is a shock jock because he’s called us unfit’ – that was a disgraceful response from Adam Simpson and Trevor Nisbett when it was clear for everyone to see that Elliot Yeo was overweight, Nic Naitanui was overweight, Tim Kelly was out of shape.

“Everyone could see it except them – or they could see it but they weren’t prepared to put their hand up and say they made a mistake.”

Luke Shuey admits West Coast were underdone in 2022

Cornes' comments came after Shuey all but admitted the Eagles weren't up to scratch in terms of fitness last year, saying there was 'no smoke without fire' in regards to the criticism. However the premiership star was bullish about their chances in 2023, given a relatively incident-free preseason to date.

“A lot of people externally were calling us ‘unfit’ last year – and they probably weren’t completely off the mark with that suggestion," Shuey said. “But internally we were always going to figure out once we reviewed the season what we needed to get better at – and you can’t do anything unless you’re fit in this game anymore.

“So our first step over the off-season was making sure we came back in good shape.”

Jack Darling is congratulated by a West Coast Eagles teammate after kicking a goal.
West Coast's Jack Darling looms as a crucial player for the club this season, following the retirement of Josh Kennedy. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

The Eagles had a stroke of good luck over the weekend, with Jack Darling still in contention to line up in round one despite rolling his ankle during training. Scans cleared the 30-year-old key forward of the need for surgery.

The retirement of Josh Kennedy means Darling will be the focal point of West Coast's attack this year alongside rising star Oscar Allen. West Coast were ravaged by injuries last season, and Simpson was bracing himself for bad news after seeing Darling go down.

"The bruising we got from last year, there's those fleeting thoughts (of worry) that come into your mind," he said. "But we've got to stay resilient. Injuries are going to happen. We had our fair share last year, so hopefully we'll get a better run at it, which we have."

with AAP

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