West Coast coach Adam Simpson has declared his team might stop training at Optus Stadium after Tom Barrass became the latest Eagle to fall victim to the hard turf.
Barrass was a late withdrawal from Friday night’s 42-point loss to Port Adelaide after succumbing to a foot injury.
It’s not yet known how serious the injury is, but Simpson fears it could potentially be a stress-related problem.
The Eagles have been plagued by foot and lower leg injuries over the summer, with Simpson thinking the damage has been caused by the hardness of Optus Stadium.
The $1.6 billion stadium came under fire last year because of its hardness, with Sydney star Lance Franklin missing three games with a heel injury that the Swans attributed to the hard turf.
West Coast currently have goalsneak Willie Rioli sidelined with a foot injury, while Elliot Yeo and Jamie Cripps battled toe injuries during the off-season.
Measures were taken last season to soften the Optus Stadium turf, and the AFL’s numerous tests have shown the venue complies with the league’s standards.
But the Eagles still aren’t satisfied.
“We’re going to have to stop training here, that’s pretty obvious,” Simpson said.
“It’s a bit like when you get asked, ‘Do you want to train at the G?’ Of course you do, but we’re losing players.
“So until that ground (Optus Stadium) becomes better for both us and Fremantle, we might have to avoid training here.”
The Eagles will assess Barrass further in the coming days to determine the extent of the injury.
“Our list is pretty healthy, but whenever we lose a player it seems to be a lower leg injury,” Simpson said.
“His (Barrass) foot has pulled up sore. It pulled up sore (on Thursday).
“We’re assessing whether it’s another stress-related injury, which would probably be our seventh in the last 20 games.”
Simpson stressed that the hard ground was not to blame for his team’s inept display against Port Adelaide.
What an absolute appalling performance by the West Coast eagles, up there with some of the lowest scoring games by a single team in AFL history.. and these are the reigning premiers we’re talking about.
— Thomas Hill (@ThomasH47390149) April 19, 2019
I took some time to think and I’ve come to the conclusion that the only west coast eagles player that was present at optus stadium was Jack Petruccelle and unfortunately one person cannot win a game on their own, it would have been great if the team helped him.
— Stephanie 💀🌺🌸🔮🌊 (@ThisIs_Steph) April 19, 2019
The Power won the inside 50m count 69-38, and opened up a 49-point lead by halftime in pouring rain.
The Eagles have struggled whenever they have been forced to confront slippery conditions this season, and Simpson said it was an area he would look into.
Port Adelaide improved their record to 3-2 with the 13.17 (95) to 8.5 (53) win, and coach Ken Hinkley pointed out how the injection of youth this season had energised the squad.
Willem Drew, Xavier Duursma, Connor Rozee, and Zak Butters all played against the Eagles, and Hinkley said the mix between youth and experience had been crucial in the team’s success.
“Gee that’s one part that’s hard not to get carried away on,” Hinkley said.
“I would say it’s a massively big tick for the connection of the group the way they’ve quickly come together.”