West Coast, Hawthorn brace for wooden spoon battle
West Coast coach Adam Simpson hates losing, but he won't be using the threat of the wooden spoon as motivation for his players heading into Sunday's bottom-of-the-table clash with Hawthorn in Tasmania.
The Eagles won just two games last season, and their 2023 campaign stands at 1-8 on the back of a debilitating injury crisis.
Hawthorn (1-8) have been just as bad, leading fans to dub Sunday's clash in Launceston as the 'Harley Reid Cup', in reference to the loser being in the box seat to collect the No.1 pick in the draft.
West Coast have claimed just one wooden spoon in their proud history - in 2010 - and Simpson doesn't want to be the one who leads them to another.
But he's not using it as a motivational tool.
"We don't want to come last, so that's always in the back of the mind," Simpson said.
"But we just stick to a process and try to motivate our players through actions.
"We reward good things we see on the field rather than the threat of the wooden spoon.
"I don't think that (the threat of the wooden spoon) works, so I don't use it as motivation.
"I'm not used to (losing), the club's not used to it, our players aren't used to what's happening at the moment.
"We don't like it, but we're on a journey."
Things got more difficult for the Eagles on Saturday with star defender Tom Barrass forced out through illness.
The full-back was replaced by Rhett Bazzo, who returns from missing two games through concussion protocols.
Barrass joins Jack Darling, Nic Naitanui, Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo, Jamie Cripps, Liam Ryan, Shannon Hurn, Jeremy McGovern and Tom Cole on the sidelines.
"I was watching, maybe five weeks ago, when they had five or six injuries in a 15 or 20-minute period and it was quite unbelievable watching it on TV," Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell said of West Coast's injury crisis, which began in the round-three loss to Fremantle.
"They're still going to have premiership players (this Sunday), more premiership players than we have running out, more finals experience than we've got - so we can't underestimate West Coast in the slightest."
The Eagles have been on high alert this week after several fringe players were struck down by the flu.
Mitchell was himself hit by COVID-19, but the second-year coach has since recovered and will be in the hot seat for Sunday's game.
The Hawks have recalled Tyler Brockman and Ned Reeves to replace injured duo Changkuoth Jiath and Chad Wingard, who are both battling calf problems.