Adam Simpson concedes doubters will have cause to query West Coast’s big-game ability until his Eagles prove themselves under the hottest spotlight.
The Eagles were thumped in the 2015 grand final by Hawthorn and then bundled out at home in the first round of last year’s finals by eventual premiers the Western Bulldogs.
High-profile forwards Josh Kennedy, Mark LeCras and Jack Darling have all worn flak for their performances at key moments and Simpson says there is only one way the critics can be shut up.
“In big games, when the pressure is at its hottest, they would be the first to admit they haven’t handled it as well as they could and that’s something we’re working on,” Simpson told 7 News Perth.
“We won’t see that again until next time we get there. Hopefully that’s this year. We’re aware of it we’re working on it and we can’t wait to get in that position again.
“Those types of question will be asked all the time until we get back in that situation. That’s just the reality.”
Simpson was eager to point out that a lack of supply to the forward 50 metres would not have been helpful to his forwards in the meek performances against the Hawks and the Dogs.
And he also gave a pass mark to Darling, after the 24-year-old – who kicked 44 goals from 23 games last year – came under fire for individual errors in both games.
Against Hawthorn he dropped a simple chest mark at a pivotal stage, while against the Bulldogs he was criticised for taking his eyes off the ball when going back with the flight of it.
“He [Darling] kicked a couple of goals and wasn’t worst by far,” Simpson said.
“But there was an incident in the third quarter [versus the Dogs] when the game was over that people remember and the grand final he dropped a chest mark. Suddenly it’s all about him and that’s not the case.
“The inside 50s those two finals must have been under 40 for both games We’d average 55 so you’re talking bout 15 times per game less opportunities.”