Penny starting to drop on the Simpson game plan
Xavier Ellis. Pic: Lincoln Baker/WA News

Xavier Ellis says West Coast players are getting a better handle on Adam Simpson's game plan and can improve dramatically in the run home.

The Eagles have a golden opportunity to post consecutive wins for the first time since the opening three rounds when they take on St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The last-placed Saints are on a seven-game losing streak and were thrashed by 96 points by Geelong yesterday.

West Coast have been hit by injuries to Scott Selwood (ankle) and Elliot Yeo (broken hand), with the pair facing extended stints on the sidelines.

But they hope to regain key on-baller Luke Shuey (ankle) for the clash with the Saints, while veteran Dean Cox could also return after being rested from Saturday's thrilling win over Gold Coast at Patersons Stadium.

Ellis admitted there were nervous moments after the Eagles gave up a 35-point three-quarter time lead.

"Whenever you get 40-odd points up, the game is usually over, so when they started steam-rolling home, there were some concerns," Ellis said.

"I think we have been in front at three-quarter time and lost maybe three times or something and we had Cox and Selwood and Darren Glass (retired) out, so we needed a bit of leadership.

"There are a lot of guys about my age, about 26, who enjoyed the challenge of trying to steady the ship."

Ellis has tried to be an on-field communicator for Simpson since the pair arrived from Hawthorn at the end of last season.

"We talk footy a fair bit," he said. "During pre-season I had a better handle on the game plan that Simmo wanted to play early more than the boys because I have been around it for a while.

"On the field if I see something, speaking to the young blokes and the older blokes they all ask questions about what they're meant to do and the way Simmo wants it.

"Now the guys have a fair handle on it, but we're still learning. We've looked at Hawthorn where I've come from, Clarko (Alastair Clarkson) has been there for 10 years so mistakes are going to happen in the first season, and slowly but surely those mistakes become less and less.

"We've got guys that are really determined, train really hard and have their backs to the wall a bit, but we love a challenge and look forward to taking on the rest of the competition for the rest of the year."

Ellis is getting some consistency with his body after missing just two games this season.

"I think I have played 10 games now and I haven't been able to do that for a long time," he said.

"I have got a real emphasis on training as much as I can during the week. The more work I can get into my body, the more output I can have on game day."

The West Australian

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