Despite a terrific win over Port Adelaide, West Coast wasn’t left unscathed, with skipper Luke Shuey set to be sidelined with a reoccurring hamstring injury.
Until Shuey went down in the dying minutes of the game, he was best on field with 28 disposals, eight clearances and six tackles.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson fronted the media post game, calling it a ‘sour part of the night’.
The midfielder has a troublesome history with hamstring injuries, only just recovering from one attained in the preseason. Last season, he hurt both his hamstrings West Coast’s clash against the Bombers in Queensland.
“I think it’s something he’s done before which feels like it’s gonna be a standard twenty one day-er. We’ve tried every different program under the sun so we’ll just keep going back to the drawing board until we get it right,” he said.
“We’ve just gotta a bit dig deeper, not sure how much further we can dig. We’ve dug pretty deep.”
Losing the captain is a huge blow for West Coast, as he plays a crucial role in their line up. To cover this hole, Adam Simpson is confident his players will stand up to fill in the gap.
“I think all of our leaders have really stood up over a number of years, but Luke’s awareness and game awareness around the ball and stoppages and organisation, that’s probably what we don’t see.,” he said.
“What he did from an organisational point of view is what we missed last week. We need people to stand up when he’s not there.”
One senior player who can stand up is Andrew Gaff. After a quiet two rounds and numerous critics after him, he was back to business as per usual. The ball magnet gave an answer to anyone who questioned his form with 36 disposals, 13 marks and ran 14.2km.
“We did nothing, he just played his normal role,” Simpson said.
“I just let him do his thing, it wasn’t really anything from an instructional point of view.
“It’s a relief if you’re a good player and you play well because you’ve met expectations.”
Ex-Cat Tim Kelly and Dom Sheed looked poised in Shuey’s absence in rounds one and two, and Nic Naitanui has the ability to elevate any midfield.
Meanwhile, youngster Xavier O’Neill is waiting in the wings after a dominant WAFL display against Perth.
Going forward, veteran Josh Kennedy doesn’t seem to be slowing down, adding four more goals to his tally.
He has plenty of support from youngster Oscar Allen and Jack Darling, with Jamie Cripps circling below. Shannon Hurn looks timeless down back, while Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass clamped down on All Australian forward Charlie Dixon.
Live-wire Liam Ryan could earn himself another Mark of the Year nomination as he leaped over Port Adelaide defender Darcy Byrne-Jones in the second quarter.
His coach was in awe, but took time to acknowledge Ryan was more than a highlights reel.
“He does those special things, but his work off the ball has been a really surprising addition for us since we recruited him,” he said.
With few dents in their armour, Adam Simpson has faith his men can pose as a threat going forward.
“The mids were giving us a real contest and the forwards were capitalising, and our backs have been good all year,” he said.
“I think our best is as good as any.”