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The nightclub furore is just the tip of the iceberg at the besieged West Coast Eagles, according to veteran AFL reporter Caroline Wilson.
Seven Eagles players were each fined $5000, half of which was suspended, after breaking team guidelines by visiting a Perth nightclub during WA's Covid-19 peak.
'ABSOLUTELY PATHETIC': AFL world left seething over 'dog act'
Defenders Jackson Nelson and Josh Rotham were the first ones to hit the headlines after being photographed at Leederville's Hip-E club a day after West Coast lost to Richmond by 109 points.
It was later revealed Jake Waterman, Campbell Chesser, Rhett Bazo, Hugh Dixon and Patrick Naish were also in attendance.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson said he was left "furious" when it first emerged that only two players had broken protocol, before that figure rose to seven later in the week.
Wilson says the number of players involved in the controversy does not bode well for the struggling footy club, or the coach.
"It's thumbing your nose at your club, at society, at the Western Australian public."
"After one of your worst performances, ever." 🗣️
Caro with the latest on West Coast, as the panel reacts to the team's nightclub debacle. #9FootyClassified | @Channel9 pic.twitter.com/U05yHfG7gn
— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) May 9, 2022
“There is a collective issue at that footy club,” Wilson said on Channel 9’s Footy Classified.
“It’s much bigger than players not taking covid protocols seriously. But when seven players get together for a drink and they decide to go out when they’ve been told not to - it’s a bigger issue.
“There’s a lot more going on at West Coast than just injury and illness. It’s to do with list management and conditioning a disconnect clearly between players and coach.
"There really is a problem at the Eagles. And it’s just really weird to see the behaviour, the game style, the body language that we’re seeing at the moment. It’s not something we’re used to.”
Fellow panellist and Essendon great Matthew Lloyd called it the “the biggest slap in the face for a coach” and suggested Simpson could walk out on the club as a result.
North Melbourne icon and Fox Footy expert David King also agreed that Simpson may be questioning his future as West Coast coach.
“A major part of this is how the information reached Adam,” King told SEN on Monday.
“That there were five more players. Did they come forward and see him? Were they called out? The lies after the lies in the end hit home about what your culture really is.
“The two (players) you can understand because there is going to be a percentage of error with 50 young men in your group. But seven, does it impact his thought process of whether to roll on through this rebuild process? Because a fair few of those players are going to be involved in the rebuild.”
The sorry situation has ramped up the pressure on West Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett, who said the players involved were “ashamed and embarrassed” about the scandal, having met with them to hand down the penalties.
West Coast already savaged by injuries and Covid cases
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."
Simpson said it was important for the club to move on from the saga and suggested that the players involved would need to work hard to earn back trust.
"They're very remorseful. Obviously it's an error in judgement and we'll move on," Simpson told Channel 7.
"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."
The AFL Players Association condemned West Coast's decision to hand down fines, saying there shouldn't be rules in place barring players from living a normal life after years spent adhering to strict COVID conditions.
Simpson is still in isolation after contracting COVID-19 last week, but he is expected to be out in time for Sunday's clash with defending premiers Melbourne at Optus Stadium.
West Coast sit on bottom of the ladder with a 1-7 record.
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