West Coast midfielder Elliot Yeo has become the latest Eagle to enter the AFL’s health and safety protocols, while injured forward Willie Rioli has flown to the Northern Territory to spend time with family.
The Eagles hit the headlines in recent days after seven players broke club guidelines by visiting a Perth nightclub during the peak of WA’s COVID-19 outbreak.
Jackson Nelson, Josh Rotham, Jake Waterman, Campbell Chesser, Rhett Bazo, Hugh Dixon and Patrick Naish were all fined $5000 each – with half of that amount suspended – for partying a night after the club’s 109-point loss to Richmond in round seven.
West Coast have been ravaged by injuries and COVID-19 this season and the club confirmed on Tuesday that Yeo has entered the health and safety protocols, ruling him out of Sunday’s clash with Melbourne at Optus Stadium.
Yeo has missed the last two games with concussion and his 2020 and 2021 campaigns were heavily affected by osteitis pubis.
“He has had a pretty average run,” Yeo’s teammate Liam Duggan said on Tuesday.
“It’s been a tough couple of years for Yeo really with his groins and stuff like that.
“We feel for him, but it (COVID-19 protocols) is something we’ve all had to deal with across this year and we’ll probably continue to deal with.”
Rioli made a stunning return to AFL ranks this season following two years out of the game, booting eight goals across the first three rounds.
His form tapered after that before suffering a hamstring injury in the round-seven loss to Richmond.
Rioli is set to be sidelined for at least another week and he’s been given permission to spend a few days with family.
“His family is in Darwin and we’re a family club, and that’s really important to us that the boys are able to reach out to their families when in need,” Duggan said.
“If that’s what Willie needs, than I think that’s a good thing for him.”
Eagles coach Adam Simpson says the players caught up in the nightclub controversy need to earn back the trust of their teammates and the club.
The AFL Players Association condemned West Coast’s decision to hand down fines, saying there shouldn’t be rules in place barring players from living a normal life after years spent adhering to strict COVID-19 conditions.
Duggan said there were no “hard and fast” rules about which places the players can and can’t visit.
But he said it was obvious a nightclub was a no-go zone.
“It is disappointing obviously and a pretty big error in judgement,” Duggan said.
“Obviously we’re disappointed, but they’re still our mates and our teammates and we need the best out of them.
“Those boys will learn from it and I’m sure they won’t be making those mistakes again.
“The club put out guidelines on staying away from those high density areas, and as part of those the boys have obviously misread those cues.”