Luke Shuey has missed two weeks of match simulation and still faces a challenge to be fit for round one, writes MARK DUFFIELD.
An intra-club hit out between the AFL’s last round of practice matches this weekend and round one will hold the key to West Coast skipper Luke Shuey’s place in the team to face North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.
Speaking before the club’s season launch at Crown Perth on Thursday, coach Adam Simpson confirmed Shuey would play against Adelaide on Friday evening – but would be on managed minutes.
He also confirmed a minor injury issue for Shuey in recent weeks after the skipper missed two weeks’ worth of match simulation, including the club’s most serious hit out of the summer so far against Port Adelaide last Friday.
“We will manage him,” Simpson said. “It is a slow burn with Luke. He will play just over half a game (against Adelaide).
“The next week is really important. It is a bye week for the industry but we will have a good hit out next Friday afternoon.”
Shuey is likely to need to play most or all of that game to prove himself ready to face the Kangaroos in round one.
The Perth rumour mill has been rife with suggestions that Shuey, the victim of multiple hamstring injuries in 2020 and 2021, had suffered what has been described as a “little hammy”.
Asked if Shuey had been injured or managed, Simpson said: “It was a bit of both. Nothing significant but just looking after the body.”
But Shuey himself declared that the only injury he has had over summer was a calf injury when on stage in the early stages of the season launch.
“The body is good. I have had a different look at the pre-season to what most of the boys have had with my injury history and age,” he said.
“I had one calf over the off-season. Obviously I didn’t play last weekend against Port but I had about a two hour training session pre the Port Adelaide game and I am ready to go tomorrow.
“Touch wood I have had a nice little build into round one and hopefully I have a bit of luck this year.”
Simpson declared there would be up to six changes to the starting line up from the game against Port Adelaide. Nic Naitanui is still being nursed along with a sore Achilles and won’t play.
Simpson said the Eagles were prepared to be patient and take things slowly with Naitanui.
“It is a long year,” he said. “I haven’t got a time line on it other than it will be small steps.”