Eagles chair demands steps forward in AFL

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West Coast chairman Russell Gibbs has reiterated his support for Adam Simpson but says the AFL club will not tolerate treading water next year.

The Eagles have fallen head-first into rebuild mode after a horror 1-7 start to a 2022 campaign that has been littered by a spate of injuries and COVID-19 issues.

Off-field indiscretions have also hurt the bottom-placed club, with seven players fined for breaking team guidelines by attending a nightclub.

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Simpson, who led West Coast to the 2018 premiership, has the public backing of the club’s board to steer the rebuild.

But while reluctant to put a timeline on proceedings, Gibbs said the Eagles must take steps forward under Simpson in 2023.

“We have to see improvement, without doubt,” Gibbs told ABC radio on Saturday.

“If we go through next year and there is no improvement and there is no sign of improvement, then the coach obviously would have to explain where he sees the club going.

“But I’ll stress again, at this point there is no time on that.

“I’d like to see everyone playing together and we’ll go forward from there.”

The Eagles’ dramatic slide has come as a large core of senior players – including Shannon Hurn, Josh Kennedy, Luke Shuey and Nic Naitanui – near the ends of their careers.

Gibbs said West Coast will commit to the draft to bring in fresh talent, rather than seeking a quick fix.

“All I can do is ask people to continue to support the club as we go through this,” Gibbs said.

Speaking directly to Gibbs on ABC radio, West Coast dual-premiership coach Mick Malthouse said there is a “long, hard road” ahead for his former club.

The all-time AFL coaching games record holder warned Gibbs that Eagles fans had been “spoilt rotten” by the club’s success over the years.

“The reality is you’ve got to set your supporters up for a pretty bumpy, I’d say, almost three or four years before you even look like turning it around,” Malthouse said.

“And even if you do turn it around, to turn it around so you have a position at the top of the ladder is going to take another three or four years, the way I see it.”

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