Australia

Rioli joins Eagles’ injured list for crunch game against Lions

West Coast coach Adam Simpson says he would have selected Willie Rioli for Saturday’s must-win clash with Brisbane if the premiership goalsneak was fit to play.

Rioli’s AFL return has been put on hold in the wake of him suffering a tight hamstring earlier this week.

Star defender Jeremy McGovern (hip) and spearhead Josh Kennedy (finger) have also been scratched against the Lions in another huge blow, with the All-Australian duo joining Tim Kelly (knee) and Brad Sheppard (concussion) on the sidelines.

Rioli was available to return against Brisbane after serving his two-year ban for twice substituting a urine sample during an anti-doping test.

The 26-year-old has been training at the Eagles for the past two months, but a recent case of hamstring soreness curtailed his comeback plans.

“We were going to play him. Everyone we spoke to were pretty keen to get him in,” Simpson said.

“He pulled up a bit tight a couple of days ago and unfortunately we can’t play him — as much as we all would love to.

“It’s the way of our season a little bit. On occasions when we’re ready to bring people, in we either lose people or they don’t get to the line.

“It’s disappointing but not the end of the world.”

Rioli could potentially return during the AFL finals if the Eagles make it or to WAFL action in the coming weeks.

“It’s hard to get up and be ready to play AFL after two years off,” Simpson said.

“He’s done everything he can. He just hasn’t got to the line.

“We’ll have to wait and see on the severity of the hamstring. I don’t think it’s a massive one. I think it’s just a bit tight.

“The last eight weeks, I’m really proud of what he’s done.

“He’s got complete buy-in from our players and staff. He’s back. His suspension’s over, he just won’t be playing this week.”

West Coast need to beat Brisbane and hope either GWS or Essendon lose in order to sneak into the top eight.

The loss of McGovern, Kennedy, Sheppard and Kelly is a huge blow to West Coast’s victory hopes against Brisbane.

Simpson revealed McGovern was likely to have surgery on his hip at the end of the season.

“Gov’s been carrying a hip for a long period of time, probably a couple of years, and it’s getting to the point where eventually it’s going to need surgery,” Simpson said.

Goalsneak Jamie Cripps will face Brisbane despite having several teeth knocked loose in last week’s loss to Fremantle.

Cripps was wearing a mouthguard but the accidental elbow he copped caught him so flush it had the potential to break his jaw.

AAP


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