West Coast Eagles chairman Russell Gibbs refuses to give timeline to club rebuilding

West Coast Eagles chairman Russell Gibbs says there is no timetable for rebuilding the club, but some improvement is expected over the coming 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 the number of COVID-19 figures rose in Western Australia.

Jake Waterman screams and runs with his hands by his side
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 have yet to play at the AFL level. Gibbs said until the club could draw up its list, there would be no timeline for rebuilding.

Adam Simpson looks on during the 2022 AFL Round 04 game between the Collingwood Magpies and 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 do this in 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 need to see improvement without a doubt,” he said.

“But I emphasize again, right now there is no time [frame] on that. 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 have finally acknowledged that their roster needs to be rebuilt and they will use the draft to achieve those goals. But Gibbs refused to interfere in the futures of several veterans.

Luke Shuey and Shannon Hurn of the Eagles after their loss in the 2022 AFL Round 06 match against the Port Adelaide Power
Luke Shuey and Shannon Hurn are two veterans without 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.

“Those decisions have to be made by the football department, the coach, the selectors, given who is available to 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 of the 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 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.

West Coast Eagles Chief Executive Officer Trevor Nisbett speaks at a press conference
Trevor Nisbett remains tasked with leading the rebuilding of the Eagles as the club plans several years of pain.MONKEY 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.”

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