West Coast coach Adam Simpson is backing Luke Shuey to retain the captaincy for 2023, saying there are signs the 32-year-old can return to his best form.
Shuey has been plagued by calf and hamstring issues since taking over as captain in 2020, but he strung together 13 consecutive games to finish off last season to show his body can still handle the rigours.
West Coast will conduct their usual player vote in January to decide on their next captain and Simpson said all indications were Shuey was keen to continue in the role.
«We normally use a player vote, and we’ll contribute, but I wouldn’t have thought there would be much change,» Simpson said.
«We probably didn’t see the best of him (last year), but he was out there.
«I think he’s really keen to get a good pre-season in and get back to the form of a few years ago.
«It’s still there, I can see it. I can see the way he trains.»
Injury-plagued midfielder Elliot Yeo is still working his way back to full duties after tweaking his calf during the pre-season.
Yeo was plagued by calf and hamstring issues last season and will be eased back into full training.
«He had a tiny, tiny niggle in his calf and we’re just being conservative,» Simpson said.
«He’s been running for probably a month and he could start training tomorrow, but we’re just going to take our time, get to Christmas and hopefully get a really good run at it in the New Year.
«It’s so small, but unfortunately it’s been recurring.We’re doing everything we can to get it right.»
Forward Jack Darling is nursing a back niggle, but Simpson is optimistic it’s only minor.
«He came back early and tried to join in with the younger guys who have been going pretty hard, and I think he got a bit of a shock,» Simpson said.
«His back has stiffened up.I think he’ll be fine in a couple of days.»
Simpson said his squad had become leaner in the off-season as the club attempts to bounce back from their horror 2-20 campaign.
West Coast lost Josh Kennedy and Jack Redden to retirement at the end of last season while Willie Rioli was traded to Port Adelaide.
The Eagles publicly expressed their disappointment that Rioli sought a trade after the club had supported him through numerous controversies.
Rioli was banned for two years for twice tampering with a urine sample and was also caught at Darwin airport with cannabis taped inside his shorts.
But Simpson has nothing but love for the 27-year-old.
«I wish him all the best,» Simpson said.
«He’s a premiership player with us.Next time I see him I’ll give him a hug.»