Simpson tempers McGovern’s AFL ruck bid

Adam Simpson has reminded Jeremy McGovern that the coach still calls the shots on who plays where for West Coast in the AFL.

McGovern made the initial All-Australian squad last season as a defender, but he has spoken about aiming for a role further up the ground.

The Eagles will use the pre-season to work out who is their best option to back up Nic Naitanui in the ruck, now that Callum Sinclair is at Sydney.

“He wants to play on-ball as well – I will tell him where he needs to play,” Simpson said of McGovern.

“It’s great that he says that, but we’ll see how we go.

“One thing I do know, he’d be a different type of ruckman than most.”

Speaking at the Eagles’ community camp in Kalgoorlie on Monday, Simpson said Naitanui had missed a couple of pre-season sessions with lower back tightness.

Simpson said the key was managing Naitanui’s training properly.

“I just want him on the track training, rather than running laps,” he said.

“Finding that balance, he’s a different beast (and) he needs a different program.

“We can’t train him every time, we need to manage that, but I think he’s more mature about that now.”

Naitanui played down the back issue, saying every tall player at the club would have a tight lower back.

“Everyone is fit and healthy, myself included,” he said.

But Naitanui is unsure when he will play in the pre-season

He also backed McGovern’s bid to be the No.2 ruckman.

“Gov can play any position on the ground … he’ll be exciting in the middle,” Naitanui said.

Simpson said the grand finalists were in good shape, with 40 players available compared to 29 this time last year.

“A lot of our senior players have had pretty clean pre-seasons,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean or guarantee anything, other than the fact that it might get a bit more durability.

“I thought a couple of our senior players just got to the line last year, so hopefully we can last that extra few weeks and really finish the season off well.”

He is hopeful that Dom Sheed (knee) and Jack Redding (adductor) would probably return from injury for their third NAB Challenge game.

But Simpson is unsure whether they will be ready for round one.

“They’re progressing really well, probably ahead of schedule, but you just don’t know,” he said.

“It only takes a tiny hiccup to miss – they’re running a fine line.”

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