West Coast Eagles chairman Russell Gibbs refuses to put time line on rebuilding club

West Coast Eagles chairman Russell Gibbs has said there is no timetable for the club’s rebuilding but improvement is expected over the next year.

The Eagles are 18th on the AFL scale after a disastrous start to the season, which saw the team win just one game and lose four consecutive games by 63 points or more.

The club has been hit hard by injuries and COVID-related downtime, but has also endured self-inflicted stumbles, with several players hitting a nightclub as Western Australia’s COVID-19 numbers surged.

Jake Waterman and Jackson Nelson were among seven players fined.(Getty Images: Michael Willson/AFL Photos)

Speculation over the future of general manager Trevor Nisbett and manager Adam Simpson prompted Gibbs to write a letter to supporters in which he pledged his support for the pair to get the club out of their predicament.

The Eagles have several young players who have yet to play at AFL level. Gibbs said that until the club were able to draw up their roster, there would be no deadline imposed on rebuilding.

Adam Simpson looks on during the 2022 AFL Round 04 game between the Collingwood Magpies and the West Coast Eagles
Adam Simpson has the backing of the Eagles board to turn the tide at the struggling club.(Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“I don’t think it would be fair to say, ‘Well, Adam [Simpson], if you don’t within two years you’re gone, or three years. I just don’t think we’re in a position to do that,” he told ABC Radio Perth on Saturday.

But he said there should be signs of a turnaround in the near future.

“We have to see improvement without a doubt,” he said.

“But I still insist, at this point, there is no time [frame] on that. I’d like to see everyone play together and we’ll take it from there.

“I can’t put time on it. All I can do is ask people to keep supporting the club while we get through this.”

Rebuild through draft

The Eagles have finally recognized that a rebuild of their roster is needed and they will use the draft to achieve those goals. But Gibbs refused to be fired on the future of several veterans.

Eagles' Luke Shuey and Shannon Hurn after their AFL Round 06 2022 loss to Port Adelaide Power
Luke Shuey and Shannon Hurn are two veterans out of contract at the end of the 2022 season.(James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Shannon Hurn, Josh Kennedy, Nic Naitanui and Luke Shuey are out of contract, along with Jack Redden, 250 players.

“These decisions have to be made by the football department, the coach, the selectors, given who is available to replace any player who is not playing for us. That is outside of my remit.”

But the rebuild won’t just revolve around the players, with the club having to investigate its long injury list, which includes several soft tissue injuries.

“Some of the soft tissue injuries may be preventable,” Gibbs said.

“Is it the way we train, is it the ground we run on? What is the cause? We cannot accept the fact that we are getting these injuries.”

Council working on the succession plan

Gibbs said Nisbett remained the best person to guide the club through these issues, but admitted the board were working on a succession plan for the long-serving chief executive.

West Coast Eagles Chairman and CEO Trevor Nisbett speaks during a press conference
Trevor Nisbett remains in charge of leading the rebuilding of the Eagles, as the club anticipates several years of pain.(Image AAP/Richard Wainwright)

“He brought us through, certainly in the last two years, one of the toughest times to ever hit the AFL,” he said.

“Now we are going through a very, very difficult time in terms of the pitch. And we think Trevor remains, at this stage, the person [to guide the club through that].

“Having said that, I make no secret of the fact that Trevor’s estate, like any good organization, will continue to be scrutinized.”

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