Eagles coach jumps to Gaff's defence

·2-min read

West Coast coach Adam Simpson has leapt to the defence of Andrew Gaff, saying his lengthy chat with the star midfielder on Tuesday was nothing unusual.

Simpson spoke to Gaff for almost 15 minutes at training, with the pictures splashed in the local paper the next day.

Gaff has been unusually down on form over the opening two rounds, tallying a total of just 32 disposals and three clearances in the games against Gold Coast and the Bulldogs.

In contrast, Gaff averaged 31.9 possessions and 4.2 clearances per game in 2019, and 24.3 possessions per game last year when quarters were reduced to 16 minutes.

After the round-one win over Gold Coast, Gaff said the new rules that encouraged faster play meant he was often caught out of position watching the ball flying over his head.

Simpson is confident Gaff will soon figure out a way to get himself into the game, and he was quick to play down the importance of their well-publicised talk on Tuesday.

"I saw a photo. I mean, I talk to players all the time one on one. And then you report about it like it's a big deal - it's just what we do," Simpson said.

"We review the game, we talk individually. And (they) just happened to take photos of me talking to Gaffy. It's no different to any other week, I promise you."

When it was put to Simpson that Gaff's body language was one of frustration, the coach hit back.

"You're trying to guess what we spoke about (from) 100m away," he said.

"I spoke about the game, I spoke about his family, about his parents, about the travel - how's the hotel - we spoke about his form. We just did all the things we talk about normally. It's not a big deal, you're overplaying it.

"He'll be fine. He'll work it out. He's a good player. He'll work through it.

"He's had a couple of weeks where he's been a bit down on possessions. We've just got to back him in.

"He's had games before where he's had a couple of weeks where he's been a bit down on possessions."

West Coast are set to be boosted by the return of captain Luke Shuey (hamstring) for Saturday night's clash with Port Adelaide in Perth.

Star onballer Elliot Yeo could return to full training in two weeks as he slowly makes progress from his serious bout of osteitis pubis.