Eagles coach says injuries no excuse
It has been a baptism of fire for first-year Collie Eagles coach Seth White and it does not look like it is going to get any easier with seven of his team’s best 22 expected to miss Saturday’s game against the top-of-the-table Carey Park.
Corey Griggs (hamstring), Adam Bignell (finger), captain Matt Blackford (finger), forward Tony Mirabella (knee) and Joel Houghton (hand) are all expected to miss another game after not being available for Sunday’s loss to South Bunbury because of injury.
Meanwhile, White confirmed key recruit Ryan Crowley had likely played his last game for the year after breaking his shoulder in the second term of the Eagles’ clash with the Tigers.
Blake Shanahan could also miss after sustaining a hip injury at the weekend, but brother Kyle may be available after missing the game because of work.
The Eagles began the season well with wins over Augusta-Margaret River and the Eaton Boomers, but have since lost their last three games and fallen to second last on the ladder.
Both Blackford and Houghton are expected to be out for an extended period of time because of their injuries, while Bignell and Griggs could return in the next few weeks.
White said the club’s injury issues were not a new thing, with 10 of his best unavailable a few weeks ago.
“Every coach I have coached against the last three weeks have said they cannot believe our injury list and it was the best they have played this season, a combination which was not good for me,” he said.
“It has been hard, especially for a first-year coach.
“It is hard on the whole club and a bit easier for me. I just pick my best 22, but I have to take four guys from the reserves and four guys from the colts which weakens their teams.
“We do not have the big population to get anyone.
“We have a lot of kids playing two games in a day and the reserves are doing it pretty tough.
“But in saying all that, we are one game off top spot, the reserves are in the five and the colts took the unbeaten South Bunbury right to the line, so we are doing alright.”
White said the Eagles would not use their injury troubles as an excuse for losing.
“We will go there (Kelly Park) expecting to get the job done,” he said,
“It is a tough gig down there in what is looking like pretty tough weather.”
Experienced Eagles Rhys Chappell and Mark Williams were named the two best players for the Eagles’ reserves team and White said they may be looked at for a call-up.
“We put them two into the reserves because we needed some pace and we are going to need more of that against Carey Park,” he said.
“It is a good excuse to throw some young kids to the wolves and see what they have got.”
White said both the club and Crowley were disappointed about his abrupt end to the season.
“It is a shame to get someone so high profile and for him to last just two games,” he said.
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