UPDATE: West Coast’s top-four chances have suffered a massive blow in the build-up to their clash with ladder leaders Sydney after Beau Waters was ruled out for up to five weeks with injury, and the match review panel suspended Luke Shuey and Quinten Lynch.
Waters had knee surgery yesterday and may not play again until round 21 while Shuey was offered a two-game ban for elbowing North Melbourne’s Lindsay Thomas in the groin last Saturday, meaning he will miss crucial games against Sydney and Adelaide. Lynch received a one-match suspension for tripping Shaun Atley.
Their unavailability could have consequences in the next fortnight.
The Eagles will drop to sixth if they lose to the Swans and Crows and the teams around them keep winning. No team has won the premiership from outside the top four under the current finals system, and only the top four teams get a double chance.
Sydney are in fantastic form, having jumped from fifth to first after five wins in a row.
The Eagles haven’t beaten Sydney since 2007 and the Swans are the only team to beat West Coast at Patersons Stadium in their past 20 matches at home.
West Coast must manage Waters’ return with Andrew Embley (shoulder), Josh Kennedy (ankle) and possibly Mark LeCras (knee).
They will almost certainly recall Adam Selwood for the clash with the Swans after he dominated for East Perth in his return from an arm infection.
With so many key players already injured, the suspensions were a bitter pill to swallow.
It was the third time since the start of last year that both Lynch and Shuey have been found guilty.
Lynch’s tripping charge would normally result in a reprimand but his previous record increased the penalty to a one-week ban.
Shuey had 68.75 points left on his record after being banned for striking Paul Duffield earlier this year, which turned a one-week penalty into a two-match suspension.
Poor records have also seen penalties increased for Waters, Will Schofield and Ashton Hams this season. Two of West Coast’s three losses this season have occurred while fit players were banned.
West Coast were last night deciding whether to accept the bans or challenge them at the tribunal.
Earlier in the day, captain Darren Glass said players couldn’t afford such breaches of discipline.
“We pride ourselves at going hard at the ball and that’s it,” Glass said.
“We’ve lost a couple of players so far this year and we’ve spoken briefly about it as a group.
“It’s not something we want to be known for.”
Shuey and Schofield have apologised to their teammates after pleading guilty earlier this season.
“We don’t make anyone stand up in front of the group. But guys are aware that they let the team down if they get rubbed out,” Glass said.
“Most guys are aware that they’ve made a mistake.