West Coast coach Adam Simpson is preparing to restart the AFL season with a blank slate as the premiership hopefuls come to grips with unprecedented challenges.
The Eagles started the year hotly-fancied to win their second flag in three years but the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent hardline response from West Australian health officials have left the club unsure when its next home game will come.
Along with Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide, the Eagles will spend at least four weeks in quarantine on the Gold Coast to resume the season.
The exact time frame will depend on when WA’s tight border restrictions are lifted to allow teams to fly into the state without serving a 14-day quarantine period.
Simpson admits he’s still figuring out how best to inspire his players on the unique opportunity that awaits amid significant short-term uncertainty.
“I’m working through that – what level do you need to address what’s happening, how far do you project,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“Quite often you do these things at the start of pre-season – you sort of project long-term then you get on with business and the week-to-week process.
“We might have to start all of that again.
“Next week we’ll get together and I think Monday might be a session where we can actually have a bit of contact and get together as a group, so we’ll have a chat then.”
The Eagles have so far been restricted to training in small groups without contact but Simpson was pleased with how his charges handled their time away from the club, estimating he had 38 or 39 fit players at his disposal.
They will have five contact sessions before the season resumes on June 11.
“I think it’ll be enough,” Simpson said.
“The early indication with our group is they’re really fit, they’ve done all the things required and, in essence, done another two months of pre-season, really.
“No one’s pulling up sore which tells me that they’ve done the work.”
With coronavirus transmission an ongoing concern despite players being regularly tested, Simpson admitted to some nerves after letting the likes of Tim Kelly, Luke Shuey and Nic Naitanui train together in a star-studded midfield group.
“I think there’s always a fear in the back of your mind,” he said.
“Fingers crossed nothing untoward happens.”