Liam Ryan photo

Liam Ryan did not join his teammates in Melbourne this week (Source: @westcoasteagles/Twitter)

Liam Ryan was left behind as the West Coast Eagles fled WA in the midst of a Covid outbreak, leaving many questions to be answered.

As the West Coast Eagles flew the nest in a mass interstate exodus to Melbourne, Liam Ryan remained in Perth, creating several questions surrounding selection and COVID-19 protocol.

On Tuesday morning, the Eagles found themselves rapidly packing their bags and boarding a chartered flight with their cross-town rivals, landing in Victoria that same night to keep the competition alive.

SEE: AFL confirms fixture changes, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australian clubs head to Victoria

The forward was the only Eagle not to board the plane, with Coach Adam Simpson citing his ineligibility for selection as the reason. Liam Ryan will not play against Sydney this week after receiving a one-week suspension for rough conduct against Bulldog Jason Johannisen last Sunday.

However, should the West Coast remain in the AFL’s heartland beyond this week, Liam will rejoin the side. But that’s an issue for much later on.

“We’ll work it out when we need to,” said Simpson, who addressed the media on Thursday afternoon.

“Maybe he can get over next week, depending on what happens if we’re here.

“We took a fair squad, but we thought Liam [Ryan] being suspended for a week, [he] can spend a week with his family and we’ll try work through that scenario if it presents itself next week.

“You can’t plan these things, you’ve just got to get on with it.”

With the situation evolving and changing, it’s difficult to determine whether Liam Ryan will be subjected to the same quarantine procedures when he reunites with his teammates if the Eagles stay in Victoria.

Simpson said the traveling party only had to quarantine until they all returned a negative result. He expects Ryan won’t have to do anything different from what the other players did.

In terms of selection matters, the match committee is working through a replacement based on main training.

However, off the back of last week’s 55-point loss, and all-around disappointing loss, Simpson alluded to selection being tighter this week.

“We have good numbers and obviously we had a really disappointing performance last week,” he said.

“We’ve got probably up to forty odd players available which went from low thirties to forty in one week.

“Selection is going to be tight, some guys really put their hand up last week, and a lot of guys didn’t.

“There was a really good training session today, a lot of guys have put their hands up. There will be serious match committee discussions this afternoon.”

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Both Jamaine Jones and Zac Langdon were dropped last week to accommodate five players returning from injury. With Ryan out, one may get another opportunity.

Jones has been having a break-out year of the pair, playing some of the best footy of his career, with his best game against Fremantle in round 7.

Simpson commended the young forward for his development, and suggested he may be back in the side very soon.

“He’s had a great year,” said Simpson.

“He found his way out of the side, not through lack of form, it was a bit of a squeeze really after the Richmond game and the players coming back in.

“He puts a lot of good pressure on, he’s trying to lift his opportunities with his disposals.

“[I] wouldn’t be surprised if he made his way back in the side sooner rather than later.”

Fears surrounding defender Tom Barrass’ fitness have been eased as Simpson put him up for the job on Sydney juggernaut Buddy Franklin.

After colliding with Bulldog Riley Garcia, Barrass looked sore, but has avoided any serious injuries.

With a fully fit squad, the Eagles are best equipped to break their Kardinia Park curse after ceasing their SCG hoodoo just weeks ago.

Simpson has embraced it as another opportunity, and is looking forward to facing the Swans this Sunday.

“Every time you get to play there, there’s another opportunity,” Simpson said

“We’re lucky enough to play there once a year. It’s really a challenge for us to win down there, we’ve struggled in the past.

“An opportunity is all we’re looking at it as and we’re looking forward to it.”

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