The West Coast Eagles have publicly rejected reports that head coach Adam Simpson will be asked to take a three-month leave of absence at the end of the AFL season. Confusion was erupted after multiple reports, including from Eddie McGuire on Footy Classified and also in the Herald Sun, said that the Eagles were keen for the embattled coach to get some time away from the sport after a dire season.
It's been a horror year for the Eagles and there a few signs it could improve in the short term, with the club anchored to the bottom of the ladder for the second season in a row. The reports came in the wake of North Melbourne's Alastair Clarkson stepping down indefinitely and Richmond's Damien Hardwick following suit earlier this week.
Simpson has faced calls for his sacking after the Eagles were trounced by the then 18th placed Hawthorn in round 10, but the club is determined to stand by the 2018 premiership coach. McGuire reported on Footy Classified that the Eagles were concerned that Simpson may be struggling as the Eagles lack competitiveness at the moment, in large part due to half of their best 22 being injured.
“West Coast Eagles want to keep him but they’re really worried about him as well as what’s going on with the other coaches,” McGuire said. “You watch Adam Simpson, it’s like watching someone age in front of you at the moment.
"He’s had a tough time because of what’s been going on with the injuries and the like and we’re going to do a deep dive into what’s going on at the West Coast Eagles.
“My belief is they want him to take an extended leave to take a break with his family, get out of town and go and have a three-month holiday if he wants to stay as coach of the West Coast Eagles and stay at that club. They’re a way down the track about their thought about what they want to do next year.”
"If he stays, they want him to take a three-month holiday with his family and just get out of town."
Eddie McGuire with exclusives on West Coast's post-season plan for their coach, the club's trade period approach, and its intentions with pick 1.#9FootyClassified | @Channel9 pic.twitter.com/dqrKGHxXTy
— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) May 24, 2023
Channel 7 sports presenter Ryan Daniels also made a similar report, but a twist was thrown into the mix when the Eagles released a statement regarding the reports. They said the reports were 'inaccurate', and that a discussion about Simpson taking an extended break at the end of the season hadn't taken place.
Daniels said he was standing by his story however, saying that the statement had come out in response to more 'inflammatory reports' that suggested Simpson's job hinged on taking the break. Confusion was created due to the Herald Sun's reporting of the story featuring a quote from a West Coast spokesperson saying Simpson would be 'encouraged to take an extended break to refresh' at the conclusion of the season.
Adam Simpson under pressure over injury-ravaged Eagles season
Simpson faced fierce criticism from West Coast Eagles legend Glenn Jakovich in the wake of the loss to Hawthorn. It was the second-largest loss in AFL history to a team sitting last on the ladder, with the Eagles inheriting the wooden spoon position as a result.
“Definitely, he has to go – he can’t continue,” Jakovich told Perth radio station 6PR. “Something has to happen – the club has to come out, defend that and talk to their supporters.
“Not every keeps their job. “Unfortunately, (his time is up.) Something has to give – that cannot continue.
“We came today thinking a competitive game between the 17th and 18th side – 116-point loss? The fifth worst in the club’s history? Against Hawthorn who are just going? Sorry.”
Although Elliot Yeo (groin), Tom Barrass (illness) and Shannon Hurn (groin) are a chance of returning for Saturday's clash with Essendon, Luke Shuey, Nic Naitanui, Jeremy McGovern, Liam Ryan, Jamie Cripps, Jack Darling and Tom Cole remain sidelined. Simpson, speaking on the club's website this week, says he now mostly avoids digesting what is said about West Coast in the media.
"I used to (take it in) when we were winning," he said. "About two years, I realised how unhealthy it is.
"I disconnected from it, to the point where I really don't read or watch anything. It's probably made me more balanced as a person, more present at home, and really care about the people that matter."
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