West Coast coach Adam Simpson says Jack Darling’s medical stand-off with the club will remain a private matter, stating that it’s not right to divulge personal information of that nature.
Darling’s career hung in the balance when he missed the AFL’s January 21 deadline to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
West Coast released a statement at the time saying Darling couldn’t train or attend the club’s headquarters until he was vaccinated.
But the star forward contradicted that statement when he said he had been diagnosed with suffering from a work-related injury and wasn’t at the club due to “doctor’s orders”.
The saga took another twist last Friday when Darling returned to the club after satisfying the AFL’s COVID-19 protocols.
However, Darling is set to miss the early rounds of the season while he builds up match fitness and recovers from a niggling foot injury.
“There’s a very big difference in running laps shirtless at a park and actually training for football, as much as the rig looks fantastic for young Jack,” Ryan Daniels told Clairsy & Lisa on Monday morning, adding that it is going to take some time to get Darling’s tendon right and to get some minutes into his leg before he’s considered match fit.
“Clubs have resources put towards making sure players don’t get hurt too often, such as physio straight after sessions, but if you’re not at the club you don’t get all that.”
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Meanwhile, Simpson said Darling had been welcomed back with open arms by the player group.
“He doesn’t (have any explaining to do) and he’s been in contact with the players, so we’ll get on with it really quick and it will be like nothing has happened in the next couple of days,” Simpson said.
“He’s got a couple of little niggles. It will now be about how long it takes for him to get match conditioned.
“There’s only so much you can do on your own. He has got a little bit of a niggle in his foot, but I don’t know if that’s going to be the thing that holds him back.
“It will just be how long it takes to get back to match fitness, so we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.”
West Coast’s crippling injury crisis and the growing COVID-19 cases in Perth means Simpson is down to about 25 or 26 fit players for Sunday’s season opener against Gold Coast.
Captain Luke Shuey (hamstring) is pushing for a berth after starring in an intraclub hit-out last Friday, but Simpson said a few other players picked up injuries in the practice match.
“You’ll work it out in the next few days,” Simpson said in regards to which players got injured.