General

Spearhead Kennedy to miss season opener

West Coast will kick off their premiership defence without star forwards Josh Kennedy and Willie Rioli when they take on the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Saturday night.

Coach Adam Simpson confirmed today that even though Kennedy put his hand up to play, they had to back in what the medico’s were saying.

“No he won’t play, we won’t take him, so he’s desperate to play, I’m desperate to play him … but the recommendation is that we rest him up for another week, and keep building that conditioning.

“If they had told me he could play 50 minutes, I would have played him.”

Simpson is hopeful that Kennedy can get through training next week and feature in the coming rounds.

Also missing out on the opening round blockbuster is exciting small forward Willie Rioli who pulled up with a sore foot after training yesterday.

“He’s just presented with a little bit of a sore foot yesterday, so we are waiting for a couple of scans.”

With Kennedy out and Mark LeCras retiring at the end of last season, the Eagles are going in with a young forward line, led by 26 year-old Jack Darling.

“As much as we are coming off a successful season last year, it’s going to be a lot different, especially with the age profile in the front half, it’s not something we are afraid of, it’s just going to be different.

Consistency is the one thing you probably lack when you have kids coming through,” he said.

The Eagles are up against the ever-improving Lions, who recruited strongly over the pre-season, gaining midfielders Lachie Neale and Jarryd Lyons, with Simpson admitting he is nervous.

“There is a lot of belief coming from up north.

“Yeah, I’m nervous, in particular this time of year, but I think that’s healthy.”

Tom Hickey has been declared fit to play, donning the blue and yellow uniform for the first time after crossing from St. Kilda in the offseason.

Bounce down at the Gabba is at 5:20pm AWST on Saturday night.

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