A surprise decision to let Luke Shuey return to the field late in West Coast's 15-point AFL win over Essendon has been defended by coach Adam Simpson after revealing the injured Eagles captain will miss the remainder of the regular season.
Shuey looked no chance of rejoining his teammates after he broke down with a right hamstring injury in the third term of Tuesday night's Gabba clash.
He appeared to struggle during a fitness test at the final break and looked no better as he underwent speed drills early in the fourth.
Simpson looked set to keep his first year skipper in cotton wool especially after the 30-year-old had been sidelined for 22 days earlier in the season with a minor strain in the same hamstring.
Yet Shuey ran back out late in the last term to help West Coast clinch their ninth win in 10 games and remain on track for a top four finish.
Simpson said the Eagles captain simply wanted to inspire his teammates and did not believe the fourth term cameo had further damaged Shuey's troublesome hamstring.
"The way they sometimes react to hamstring (injury) is 'I can go at 80 per cent' - that was enough for us," Simpson said.
"It got pretty tight there and he wasn't going to play for a couple of weeks anyway."
"He's the first year as captain and he wants to do the right thing by the club. He represents us really well and he's the heart and soul."
Simpson said Shuey was tipped to miss their remaining regular season clashes with Western Bulldogs, St Kilda and North Melbourne, adding to a list of unavailable players including Elliot Yeo (groin) and Jamie Cripps (personal reasons).
Simpson was confident of welcoming back star forward Josh Kennedy (concussion) against the Bulldogs with Jake Waterman and Jack Petruccelle also a chance.
But Simpson admitted the run home to the finals would be a test for his entire team due to the congested schedule.
The 9.6 (60) to 6.9 (45) Gabba win was their third game in 10 days.
"It's a battle of the fittest at the moment. We've got a game in five days against the Doggies - we'll back up and have a swing at them," he said.
"We've got a routine in place with our recovery. Try to get your mind in front of your body is a bit of a theme with the boys.
"(But) we looked tired, Essendon looked tired too and they had a soldier down too (Andrew McGrath)."
Midfielder McGrath went down with a suspected ankle syndesmosis injury in the second term.
It was another blow for the 11th-placed Bombers who have won just two of their last nine games as they try to keep their finals hopes alive.
"It looks bad. We won't guess at the diagnosis, but it's a high ankle sprain which often end up being those syndesmosis injuries," Essendon coach John Worsfold said.