No premiership coasting leaves no premiership hangover, right?
The West Coast Eagles are back at it, and apparently brought the players in with the expectation that the gap between the end-of-September Grand Final win in the Toyota 2018 AFL Premiership competition, and the 2019 edition to get underway in March, left little time for lounging about.
First-year players were at Stirling Range National Park for a three-day camp southeast of Perth that was a test of endurance.
Forward Liam Ryan had to leave early, but did not do so out a desire to hop codes and join the NFL.
Head coach Adam Simpson was quick to tell reporters that Ryan’s early departure was not due to a rift of any sort.
“If people are struggling we don’t take it any further and Liam struggled,” Simpson told reporters.“It was a physical camp. He’s pretty fit, he ran well (on Monday), but he didn’t handle it too well at the back end so we pulled him out and we took him home. Nothing too sinister. From what I heard reported as well (it) was a bit different than what actually happened.”
First year players often struggle at the end of a regular fixture of home-and-away footy in the AFL, unaccustomed to the increased work rate, so an early trial by fire is a good way to send the message that AFL footy is a yearlong occupation.
Ryan made it on for 13 games last season and made an appearance in the 2018 Grand Final, but Ryan is struggling with the typical issues of all young men who discover that the game they love being turned into a job requires some adjustment.
There were many indications that the Eagles remain motivated and perhaps have a chip on their shoulders, as the early markets do not seem to see them on the top line.
Simpson reported that several of the players had best-ever times in the 2 kilometre time trial and that knee-rehabber Nic Naitanui should soon be able to get back on the track.