Eagles try to separate tragedy from game

Although the West Coast Eagles are still in shock over the death of former assistant coach Phil Walsh, they are trying to separate the tragedy from their upcoming clash with Melbourne.

At an open training session in Darwin on Friday, coach Adam Simpson said his players were still in shock.

“It’s a difficult day for everyone involved,” Simpson said.

“It’s a bit of an unknown, the grieving process, and everyone’s going through different stages; to try and guess what they’re going through is impossible.”

He said counselling was available and it would be hard to know how the team was feeling until Saturday.

“I think we’ve got to separate what happened from what it means to play tomorrow night,” he said.

“The fact is we’re playing tomorrow night and we need to turn up and play our best, that’s our next challenge.”

Second on the ladder coming into round 14, Simpson said the team were well-rested following a bye, but they weren’t taking anything for granted against the Demons, ranked 15th.

“Every game at the moment is pretty big for us and Melbourne, coming off such a great win, has put them in a really good state of mind as well,” he said.

“I think you’re going to see two teams confident in how they play.”

He said Demons coach Paul Roos’ training strategy was starting to pay off in his second year with the club, with the 113-89 Round 12 win against Geelong.

“I reckon last week’s was one of those games, speaking on behalf of Melbourne, where things clicked a little bit; we went through that earlier this year ourselves,” Simpson said.

But he said he didn’t see the match as a danger game.

“It’s just a game we’re really desperate to win and so are Melbourne,” he said.

“We’re not in a position to think we should be beating anyone at the moment, we’re just trying to play a game that’s going to stand up.”

Melbourne midfielder Jack Viney said the team felt they had the climate down pat at their home away from home in the Northern Territory and were playing consistently.

“We know our good football is good enough to match it with the best teams so when we’re doing that consistently we’re always in a position to win,” he told AAP.

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