West Coast look set to take an almost full-strength squad to the Gold Coast for the AFL season restart, with superstar ruckman Nic Naitanui among those set to benefit from shorter quarters.
The Eagles ticked off their second contact training session on Friday as they prepare to travel to Queensland, where they will spend at least four weeks in quarantine.
Young swingman Oscar Allen partnered Naitanui during match simulation drills and is firming as a second ruck option, while the likes of Josh Kennedy, Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass continued to benefit from the extended pre-season.
The shorter quarters this season are likely to assist impact players like Naitanui, with Allen shaping as a more versatile back-up than incumbent Tom Hickey.
“For someone like Nic, he’s pretty happy,” coach Adam Simpson told reporters on Friday.
“Being a unique player who plays on shorter minutes, no doubt it affects the second ruck selection as well and what we do with that.
“(Allen) looked good today. He’s in the mix, with probably four or five options really.”
Simpson said the club was still working with “one or two” players, including veteran defender Will Schofield, on whether they will travel to the Gold Coast.
Schofield and his wife are each balancing business interests in Perth while raising their young son, and his position on the fringe of West Coast’s best 22 means staying in the hub could ultimately leave him worse off financially.
“Someone like Will has got to weigh those things up,” Simpson said.
“There’s lots of players on every list who are playing for half their wage and their wage to start with wasn’t one we think AFL footballers are on.
“When you do have bills to pay and mortgages and life, they’re no different to anyone else in the community.”
Premiership midfielder Mark Hutchings is recovering from a minor knee procedure and won’t resume full training for up to four weeks but will still join the team in Queensland.
Small forward Jarrod Cameron has also been ruled out for the round two clash with the Suns at Metricon Stadium on June 13.
Simpson expects the AFL will grant a request by the Eagles and Dockers to take additional staff to the Gold Coast for a stay that could extend beyond a month depending on when WA removes its hard border restrictions.