West Coast coach Adam Simpson is confident superstar forward Liam Ryan will be fit enough to take on Richmond in Sunday’s blockbuster at Optus Stadium after hurting his hamstring during his scintillating performance in the Eagles’ stirring win over Carlton at the SCG.
Ryan stole the show with a four goal, 17 disposal, nine mark effort — including one of his standard mark of the season contenders — to inspire the undermanned Eagles to an against the odds win over the Blues on a ground they hadn’t tasted victory on in 22 years.
The All-Australian forward left the ground, however, in the last term and received feverish work on his hamstring from the physios before re-entering the fray.
“He looked sore at the airport, on the plane, in the warm-up, at the captain’s run after he took his mark but he was really important for us. I’m really proud of him,” Simpson said.
“He’s just got get a bit more elite with his recovery this week but he’s fine.”
With the likes of Tim Kelly, Liam Duggan, Luke Shuey, Jeremy McGovern and Alex Witherden already ruled out of the Tigers clash, Brad Sheppard will now also miss with concussion to go with a concern over Jack Petrucelle, who battled groin soreness.
West Coast can ill-afford to lose their explosive forward for the Tigers clash that has been brought forward a week to before the scheduled bye for both teams due to the Covid concerns in Victoria.
“We lost ‘Shepp’ (Brad Sheppard) today with concussion and we had a couple of boys who worked manfully though the game and were pretty sore, so the problem is we get two back next week (Josh Kennedy and Oscar Allen) and then lose two.”
“It would have been good to have the bye,” Simpson joked.
“But we honestly think we’ve had it really good as a club this year. A lot of teams deal with far worse than us, we sleep in our own beds so we’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep the comp going.”
The Eagles youngsters stood up, however, in the absence of their top-line talent to provide the necessary exuberance for the backs to the wall victory over the battling Blues.
None of debutant Luke Edwards (the son of Crows great Tyson), Xavier O’Neill, Luke Foley, Harry Edwards and Bailey Williams were born the last time West Coast won on the SCG but all managed to stand up in adversity and contribute to the win.
“I’m really proud, we played with plenty of spirit,” Simpson said.
“I got the sense all week we were building towards a game where we could really dig in and make our supporters proud. We’ve been a little bit inconsistent this year but tonight when down on numbers the young kids stood up but our leaders were exceptional.
“Our captain Nic, his first time as captain but right through the lines with Sheed, Gaff, Yeo, Barrass, Jack Darling.
“As much as we’re missing some players, we’ve still got some really good leaders and I thought they stood up today.
Naitanui was again immense in the ruck with 33 hit-outs and nine contested possessions in his 15 for the game.
“Sometimes we don’t get bang for buck with supply and obviously teams scout and hunt with Nic but I thought today he was probably our best player and gave us the supply when we needed it.”