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'Mummy's boys' face axe as Eagles ponder travel sickness

Football

West Coast coach Adam Simpson admits he doesn't know what he's going to get from his team when the Eagles play in Melbourne.

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Sunday’s 61-point drubbing by Essendon at Etihad Stadium was West Coast’s third loss in Melbourne this season, the other two coming against Richmond and Hawthorn at the MCG.

Simpson agreed his side’s form on the road this season isn’t indicative of a team capable of winning the flag.

“That’s a fair statement… our good is really good and our bad is really, really bad,” Simpson said on Fox Footy’s On The Couch.

“So finding the balance between those two is our challenge.

“That’s what’s so frustrating about us at the moment – you don’t know what you’re going to get when we travel.”

Despite their travel woes, the Eagles are fourth on the ladder with a 6-3 record after nine rounds.

They return to the sanctuary of their home ground at Domain Stadium this Sunday where they’ll face second-placed Greater Western Sydney.

Simpson promised a savage reaction at the selection table after the upset loss to the Bombers.

When asked last night how many players from that disastrous performance should feel nervous ahead of selection for the clash against the Giants, Simpson quipped “21”.

“The depth of our squad is pretty strong but we’ve got to find a balance… we’ve got to play the kids as well,” he said.

“We can’t get through this season just going back to the tried and true (players), we’ll blood a couple of young players as well.

“There will be changes this week.”

The coach would dearly love to add injured ruckman Nic Naitanui to his on-ball mix.

He said a decision would be made on Naitanui’s possible return from a knee reconstruction later this season after the club’s bye round.

West Coast captain Shannon Hurn said yesterday his team don’t like being called ‘mummy’s boys’, but admits they’ve only got themselves to blame for the public ridicule following the Essendon loss.

Brisbane great Jonathan Brown used the term following the club’s round-five capitulation to Hawthorn at the MCG.

And respected football analyst Mike Sheahan followed suit yesterday when he assessed West Coast’s inept display against Essendon.

Hurn concedes his team need to improve mentally, and admits some players may have become too comfortable following the club’s recent three-match winning run.

And as for the mummy’s boys tag?

“We certainly don’t like it,” Hurn said.

“But if we’re going to put in performances like that, you open yourself up to that type of comment.

“The fact is our best to our worst is such a big difference. If it wasn’t the case, that wouldn’t be getting spoken about.”

West Coast’s inability to halt opposition momentum has been a recurring theme in most of their interstate flops.

It was again the case on Sunday, when the Bombers kicked eight unanswered goals to open up a 64-17 advantage by midway through the second term.

Hurn hinted there may be too many players within the squad who lack the mental toughness to get their hands dirty when things aren’t going well.

“You can’t just sit back and wait and expect someone else to do it,” Hurn said.

“In life in general and in footy, there can be things that happen when things are going tough, you go, “Oh well, it’s not my day, I’m not going to do anything’.

“And when it’s going well, everyone’s up and about and going pretty well.

“We don’t want that. Whether it’s happening or not – I don’t know.

“But it probably tends to be a bit of a trend with the ‘mummy’s boy’ type stuff.”

Hurn says the situation has reached a point where talk is cheap, and he wants his team to prove they aren’t pushovers on the road.

The 29-year-old South Australian wants his team to adopt the mantra of Fremantle coach Ross Lyon – to become a club that plays well “anywhere, anytime”.

The third-year skipper acknowledged some people may start criticising his cool-and-calm captaincy style given West Coast’s inability to fix their inconsistencies on the road.

But he said behind closed doors, both he and Simpson willingly hit the players with some brutal home truths when the occasion calls for it.

-AAP

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