West Coast coach Adam Simpson says he feels like the season has been a waste after his side were booted out of this year’s AFL finals series.
The Eagles’ premiership hopes were brought to an abrupt end after copping a shock 47-point hammering from the Bulldogs in Thursday night’s elimination final at Domain Stadium.
West Coast made it all the way to last year’s grand final, and they were quietly confident they could repeat that effort after knocking off flag fancies GWS, Hawthorn and Adelaide in recent weeks.
But they were simply no match for a white-hot Bulldogs outfit, with the Eagles slumping to their biggest finals defeat on home soil, 14.15 (99) to 7.10 (52).
Simpson said he was proud of his team’s efforts to win 16 games during the home-and-away season.
But the nature of their finals exit left a sour taste in his mouth.
“Every time you lose a game like this in a final you feel like you’ve wasted the whole year,” Simpson said.
“The players are hurting as much as the coaches are and the supporters.
“You always think what could you have done differently in your preparation, and were they switched on mentally at the start.
“We need to reflect on the game and we need to improve over the summer.”
Simpson doesn’t feel his list needs much tweaking heading into next season, believing the bulk of his squad are strong.
But one area that needs urgent attention is the ruck.
With All-Australian Nic Naitanui set to miss most of next season, West Coast need to find an adequate back-up to support Scott Lycett.
Jonathan Giles filled in admirably late in the season, but the Eagles are keen on a more mobile ruckman to better complement Lycett.
GWS forward/ruckman Rory Lobb looms as a key target for West Coast, but whether a deal can be done remains to be seen.
Simpson revealed Lycett, who had been battling a posterior cruciate ligament injury since midway through the season, will require surgery on his left knee in the coming weeks.
Lycett was clearly hampered by the injury in recent games, and he was hobbling early against the Bulldogs after copping another knock to the area.
“I thought the knock he got tonight probably knocked him,” Simpson said.
“You’ve got to roll the dice a little bit as well, so we thought we would with him.
“He was brave and he played the game out.”
Simpson played down suggestions the bye week before the finals was a major reason behind his team’s flop against the Bulldogs.
“We did hit the end of the season with momentum. But to say (the bye) was the reason why we were off tonight, it’s a stretch,” Simpson said.
“They were just too good for us.
“We were just beaten around the ball. Some individuals just didn’t produce as well.”