West Coast coach Adam Simpson never even thought about not picking a raft of injured players all at once for Saturday’s elimination final showdown with Collingwood knowing it’s season over if they lose.
Simpson confirmed that captain Luke Shuey, Jack Redden, Jeremy McGovern, and Jamie Cripps would all return for the must-win clash at Optus Stadium.
Shuey, the Norm Smith medallist in West Coast’s 2018 premiership win, hasn‘t played since straining both of his hamstrings on September 1.
McGovern has been grounded since tearing his hamstring on September 10, and his return would be just three weeks after he limped off Metricon Stadium.
Cripps, who left the club‘s hub earlier this season to be present for the birth of his first child, hasn’t played since August 27.
But all four are easily in Simpson’s best 22 and the coach isn’t worried about their lack of match practice coming in to a final set to be intense if Thursday night’s clash between Port Adelaide and Geelong is any indication
“Not once for a second did I think that maybe we shouldn‘t play Luke Shuey because he might be underdone, or Jack Redden, or Jamie Cripps, or Jeremy McGovern,” Simpson said.
“Most of these guys have missed one or two weeks. Crippa has missed the most, and it‘s because he had a child.
“So it‘s not like he’s been in rehab. He’s been ready to go. He’s been jumping out of his skin to play.
“We got to play a bit of a scratch match last Friday, everyone looked like they were normal. But there are no guarantees, it becomes a risk, but it‘s a risk we’re more than willing to take.”
Simpson also dismissed any injury concerns over star spearhead Josh Kennedy, who rolled his ankle in the final-round win over North Melbourne, which was now two weeks ago.
“It was a pretty bad roll, but nothing long term and we‘ve just given him every chance to recover,” Simpson said.
“JK has got through these type of things before really easily and we‘re anticipating it’s going to happen (again).”
Mark Hutchings and Lewis Jetta are likely to be overlooked.
West Coast thumped Collingwood by 66 points earlier this year, and they boast a perfect 7-0 record in Perth this season.
The Eagles are $1.42 TAB favourites, the shortest priced pick of any of the four first week finals.
But Simpson was dismissive of his team‘s favouritism tag.
“Favouritism in finals – it‘s not really real I don’t reckon,” he said.
“It‘s more about two good sides going against each other. There’s plenty of finals experience, and I think it’s going to be on all game.”