West Coast coach Adam Simpson reckons his club found its own way to give players a rest ahead of the AFL finals – injuries.
Debate continues to rage over Fremantle’s controversial decision to rest up to 11 players for Saturday’s clash with Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.
Fremantle can afford to make the move given they’re guaranteed to finish first no matter the result of the final-round clash.
But with the Eagles needing to beat St Kilda in Perth on Saturday in order to secure second spot, Simpson knows he can’t afford to implement a similar plan.
And given a host of West Coast stars have already missed chunks of the year through injury, Simpson says there’s no real need.
“You talk about resting players, we’ve done it a different way – we’ve decided to get blokes injured for a couple of weeks, and that’s their rest,” Simpson joked.
“We won’t be needing to rest too many players. We really need to win this week to secure second spot.”
In contrast to Fremantle, West Coast will be bolstering their squad for the high-stakes clash with St Kilda.
Midfielder Chris Masten returns from suspension, while defenders Will Schofield (hamstring) and Sam Butler (hamstring) are likely to be available.
Sharrod Wellingham is an outside chance to return from an ankle injury, while Jeremy McGovern is expected to play despite copping a heavy knock to his left shoulder in last week’s loss to Adelaide.
Midfielder Scott Selwood should also be available after making a successful return from an ankle injury in the WAFL.
The one player West Coast might briefly consider resting is star forward Josh Kennedy, who has played every game this season despite suffering an elbow injury in round five.
But Simpson says that scenario is unlikely.
“We can get too cute really quickly if we think we can rest players and get away with not preparing,” Simpson told Perth radio station 6PR.
“I’m leaning towards let’s just get some good form back and hopefully have a win and secure that second spot.”
If West Coast beat St Kilda, they will host Hawthorn in a blockbuster qualifying final at Domain Stadium.
Fremantle are likely to host Sydney in the other qualifying final.