West Coast labelled criticism of their stars’ fitness “irrelevant”, “ridiculous” and not “true facts” less than a year ago.
But now the club has conceded some stars weren’t “at the top” of their game in a backflip that has angered AFL commentator Kane Cornes.
Cornes went on the record essentially “fat shaming” a host of West Coast players as early as last April when the Eagles’ season slipped away before their dismal 17th finish.
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He accused Simpson of letting professional standards slip, before being labelled a “shock jock” in response from Eagles CEO Trevor Nisbett.
Now Cornes has labelled the club’s response to his comments “disgraceful” given both coach Adam Simpson and captain Luke Shuey have now spoken out about how fit the players are this pre-season.
“You say: ‘We made some mistakes’ (after the initial fitness concerns in 2022); it’s the way you word it, Cornes said on SEN WA.
“(Simpson should have said) We made some mistakes in our pre-season, I don’t think the players have been as hungry as I would have liked them to have been.
“Yep there’s been mitigating factors around that – part of that is some injuries they had, but that doesn’t excuse them for having a poor diet and letting themselves put on weight and get out of shape.
“There’s many exercises you can do that are non-weight bearing that can keep your fitness up.
“Of course they can word it in a way rather than come out and say ‘Nah, Kane Cornes is a shock jock because he’s called us unfit’ – that was a disgraceful response from Adam Simpson and Trevor Nisbett when it was clear for everyone to see that Elliot Yeo was overweight, Nic Naitanui was overweight, Tim Kelly was out of shape.
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“Everyone could see it except them – or they could see it but they weren’t prepared to put their hand up and say they made a mistake.”
And Cornes wasn’t the only expert to take aim at the Eagles, with ex-AFL recruiter Matt Rendell labelling some West Coast players “genuinely fat”.
“I don’t take anything Kane Cornes says as any value whatsoever,” Nisbett told 7NEWS back in August.
“Some of the stuff he says is just ridiculous and it’s sad actually that he’s gone to those levels because it’s just not fair.”
But in recent weeks both Simpson and Shuey conceded the fitness standards were the focus after last year’s horror season.
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“They are probably as fit as I’ve seen them so that’s a big tick for us,” Simpson said.
“Look when there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Shuey later revealed.
“A lot of people externally were calling us ‘unfit’ last year – and they probably weren’t completely off the mark with that suggestion.
“But internally we were always going to figure out once we reviewed the season what we needed to get better at – and you can’t do anything unless you’re fit in this game anymore.
“So our first step over the off-season was making sure we came back in good shape.”
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Eagles footy boss Gavin Bell said players are aware they weren’t on top of their game last season, and that the club’s 17th place finish was all the motivation they needed.
“I think you have a year like last year and you realise that you need to be at the top of your game to be not only competitive but to win games of footy,” he said on SEN.
“We weren’t able to do that last year.
“I think that’s giving some real strong motivation to our leaders who have come back in good nick.”
Story Credit: foxsports.com.au