A SMALL but passionate group of West Coast supporters turned out to catch a glimpse of the Eagles in Wagga on Friday.
West Coast supporters were joined by wider AFL fans to watch the Eagles’ open training session at Robertson Oval.
The Eagles trained for about 40 minutes before mixing with fans, where the group signed autographs and posed for photos.
It was the Eagles’ final hit-out before their opening pre-season game against Greater Western Sydney (GWS) at Narrandera Sportsground on Saturday.
West Coast have brought a young group to the Riverina, sprinkled with some experienced senior players, and coach Adam Simpson explained that it was all designed around the club’s preparation for round one.
“It’s a reasonably long campaign to get to round one and we’ve got a game in seven days in Geraldton and then we have a couple of weeks off before we play Melbourne at Subi so we need to plan for that a little bit,” Simpson said.
“So it’s a great opportunity for our kids, we’ve got six or seven guys that have never played for West Coast so we’re really excited.”
Simpson had been critical of the AFL’s scheduling, where the Eagles have travelled across the country to play at Narrandera.
While standing by those comments, Simpson said he is happy to be in the Riverina, the Eagles’ first visit in the club’s 30-year history.
“The balance of that is I think it’s really important to play football here, it’s a great football community,” Simpson said.
“Wagga Wagga, in particular, has over 100 years of history and to grow the game in NSW is really important as well.
“The question I ask was does it have to be the West Coast, or the Western Australian sides, which I’m still trying to get my head around but the fact that there needs to be football here, I totally understand.”
The Eagles arrived in Wagga on Thursday night and will bus it over to Narrandera on Saturday for the game.
Their opponents, the Giants, will fly into Narrandera this evening and will hold a signing session at 5.50pm at Narrandera Sportsground.
The game will be played at 2.05pm on Saturday.