West Coast captain Luke Shuey has re-signed for 2023, but coach Adam Simpson won’t be using the final-round clash with Geelong to determine the fate of some of the club’s other uncontracted players.
Shuey’s career was at the crossroads entering this season after being plagued by soft-tissue injuries in the previous two years, plus over the recent summer.
But the 32-year-old has been able to play 16 games so far this season, including the past 12 in a row, to boost confidence his body can still handle the rigours of professional football.
His new-found durability was rewarded with a fresh one-year deal on Thursday.
Fellow veterans Nic Naitanui, Jack Redden and Shannon Hurn are all expected to be offered one-year extensions, while Willie Rioli has a two-year deal in front of him.
With West Coast needing to clear space to bring in a raft of new faces via the draft, the likes of Jackson Nelson, Connor West, Jamaine Jones, Bailey Williams and Hugh Dixon face a nervous wait to see if they will survive the cut.
Simpson knows tough decisions need to be made at the end of the year, but Saturday’s clash with Geelong at GMHBA Stadium won’t be a make-or-break moment for the uncontracted players.
“We’re not making list decisions (based) on the last game of the year,” Simpson said.
Shuey is tipped to relinquish the captaincy at the end of the season and Simpson praised the 237-game veteran’s ability to bounce back from a long list of injuries.
“He’s probably not back to his ultimate best, but I can see some really good signs he’s got his body right,” Simpson said.
“There’s still some good footy left.”
Naitanui (knee soreness) is likely to miss the trip to Geelong, while Jake Waterman (knee) has already been ruled out.
The return of Rioli (personal leave), Tim Kelly (suspension) and Jai Culley (suspension) will be a timely boost, but the Eagles will still enter the match missing about nine of their best 22.
Geelong are already guaranteed to finish first and they will be without Jeremy Cameron (hamstring) and Rhys Stanley (adductor).
The Cats will be aiming to celebrate Patrick Dangerfield’s 300-game milestone with a big win while West Coast will be motivated by Jamie Cripps reaching the 200-game mark for the Eagles, after playing 16 for St Kilda.