West Coast Eagles chairman Russell Gibbs says there is no timetable for rebuilding the club, but some improvement is expected over the coming year.
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Russell Gibbs has supported Trevor Nisbett and Adam Simpson, but he says there should be improvement next year.
The Eagles are 18th on the AFL ladder after a disastrous start to the season in which the squad won just one game and lost four consecutive games by 63 points or more.
The club has been hit hard by injuries and COVID-related unavailability but has also endured self-inflicted stumbling blocks, with several players visiting a nightclub as COVID-19 figures rose in Western Australia.
Jake Waterman and Jackson Nelson were among the seven players to be fined. (Getty Images: Michael Willson/AFL Photos)
Speculation about the future of chief executive Trevor Nisbett and coach Adam Simpson led Gibbs to write a letter to supporters supporting the pair in leading the club out of its predicament.
The Eagles have several young players who are not yet playing at the AFL level. Gibbs said there would be no timeline for rebuilding until the club could draw up its list.
Adam Simpson has the backing of the Eagles board to turn things around 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 do this in two years, you’re gone, or three years.” I 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 shortly.
“We need to see improvement without a doubt,” he said.
“If we continue next year and there is no improvement or sign of progress, then the coach should explain where he sees the club going.
“But I emphasize again; right now, there is no time [frame]. I’d love to see everyone play together, and we’ll go from there.
“I can’t put the time on it. All I can do is ask people to continue to support the club as we go through this.”
Rebuilding through the concept
The Eagles finally acknowledged that their roster needs to be rebuilt and will use the draft to achieve those goals. But Gibbs refused to interfere in the futures of several veterans.
Luke Shuey and Shannon Hurn are two veterans out of a 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 250 gamer Jack Redden.
“I’m not trying to be cute here, but I’m chairman of the board, not the chairman of selectors,” Gibbs said.
“The football department must make those decisions, the coach, the selectors, given who can replace a player who may not be playing for us. It is out of my jurisdiction.”
But the rebuilding will not be all about players, with the club having to examine its long list of injuries, including several soft tissue injuries.
“Some soft tissue injuries may be avoidable,” Gibbs said.
“Is it the way we train? Is it the ground we run on? What’s the cause? We can’t accept that we get those injuries.”
Board working on a succession plan
Gibbs said Nisbett remained the best person to guide the club through these issues but admitted the board was working on a succession plan for the longtime CEO.
Trevor Nisbett remains tasked with leading the rebuilding of the Eagles as the club plans several years of pain. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)
“He has led us, especially in recent years, through some of the most difficult times the AFL has ever seen,” he said.
“Now we are going through a very, very difficult time when it comes to the pitch. And we believe that Trevor remains the person right now [to guide the club through that]†
“That said, I’m not shying away from the fact that Trevor’s succession, like any good organization, will continue to be looked at.”