Pretty well, if we’re honest.
We knew from the start that this increased run of fixtures was going to take a toll on the Eagles. Particularly playing away from home and noting the poor run of form, the Eagles have certainly fronted up, despite fatigue and a mounting injuries list.
It’s really come down to how the Eagles backroom staff and the players have managed the current cram of fixtures. Playing 5 games in 19 days has been a struggle for the Eagles, and we did see some of the fatigue on Thursday night against the Saints, as towards the end of the third, the Eagles looked slow to capitalise on a couple of Saints mistakes.
“The quick turn arounds haven’t been our best friend,” said Tim Kelly, who stood-up for the Eagles at the weekend, and he’s right. Having to play away from home in an increased run of fixtures has certainly fatigued the Eagles with players having to turn out for more game time.
Plus, looking at the injuries list for the Eagles, a vast number of those players in the treatment room have suffered from a soft tissue related injury, with currently Mark Hutchings, Luke Shuey, and Jeremy McGovern all out with hamstring problems, perhaps caused by the increased game time.
No doubt the Eagles staff are doing their absolute best to keep players going during this fixture cram, but the backlog of injuries and the increased match schedule has taken its toll on the Eagles, and has perhaps been a detriment to the Eagles losing a couple of important games, for example against the Bulldogs in round 16.
Ultimately to be a premiership-winning side, you have to win home and away, and manage injured through tight fixture schedules.
And as Tim Kelly said “when you start seeing a lot of your teammates dropping like flies, it does make you want to take that extra bit of care and that starts with sleep, nutrition, ice baths, hot spas, ” the Eagles will be doing all they can to keep winning games and turning out on the pitch.
But the Eagles have done well to stay at pace with the top four calling on young guns like Tom Cole, Tom Barrass, and Jack Waterman to keep the team’s momentum going and push on to get results.
Adam Simpson has also relied heavily on the newcomers this year, introducing debutants Jermaine Jones, Harry Edwards, Nic Reid, Xavier O’Neil, Bailey Williams, and Hamish Brayshaw to the squad which has revitalised the side and helped the team with their injury backlog, with all of the debutants impressing on their first run-outs.
Kelly also spoke about how the Eagles coaches have been slowing down the training schedule, focusing more on recovery time during the week trying to help players recover from some of the knocks they’ve taken at the weekends. Often though it seems like a lot of players are having to play through injuries and its vital that the coaches slow down the training schedule with Kelly saying “we have a lot of guys going into games, not feeling 100% fresh, playing sore.”
There is no doubt players are hungry to get back on the pitch and play through these injuries, but the coaches are doing their best to mitigate players are playing with knocks as it can cause long-lasting damage, as we saw Luke Shuey earlier on just before he suffered his double hamstring injury.
“For me and everyone on our list, it’s just about being elite, being absolute pros when it comes to recovery, and doing all the little things throughout the week so that we can best prepare ourselves and our bodies throughout the week. I definitely didn’t see this happening with how many soft tissue injuries we have, but definitely looking forward to a 7-day break now that’s for sure.”Tim Kelly speaking after the Saints game.
And you can see the work the players are putting in coming through in games. Although they slowed down in the third quarter of the Saints game, they still had enough left in the tank to come back to fight late on and bully the Saints out of the game in the final quarter.
The never say die attitude and the fitness commitment of the players has never been better and with a well-deserved 7-day recovery period, hopefully the team can get some rest in before they face North Melbourne on Friday.