Simpson insists he is the man to rebuild Eagles; Hinkley stays the course, Simpkin snubs free agency

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West Coast Eagles coach Adam Simpson has declared he is the man to rebuild the once-mighty club, coming as Port Adelaide counterpart Ken Hinkley insists he will not let his contractual status derail the club.

The Eagles are in a world of pain heading into Saturday night’s home clash against a surging Essendon. They sit at the foot of the ladder, having a 1-9 win-loss record and a terrible percentage of 55.4. This follows a 2-20 record last season, heaping pressure on Simpson, who is contracted until the end of 2025.

However, the North Melbourne great says he has the support of chief executive Trevor Nisbett and the club’s board, amid reports the board has been split on Simpson’s future.

I am the man: Adam Simpson insists he wants to help the Eagles fly high once again.Credit: Getty Images

“I am the coach until I am not the coach. I always feel supported, from Trevor and the board, have been really good to me. I really want to repay them,” Simpson said on Friday.

“I am fine, I am up for it, it’s all good. It’s hard at the moment, trying to be competitive, but that doesn’t take away my energy for it all.”

Simpson moved to clarify suggestions he was going to take the final three months of the season off, which then morphed into him taking three months post-season.

“In terms of the end of the season, I am looking to do a bit of PD – personal development – and I’ll probably take the family away somewhere, but not for three months. You need a break at the end of the year, but you need a break if you win the premiership as well,” he said.

“The initial three-month thing, that’s exactly what happened. It went from now until the end of the year. I’ll have a break. It’s the last thing on my mind what I am going to do in December, or November. We have got this week, and we have got another 12 weeks to try and get something out of the season.”

Club great Glen Jakovich has called for the club to sack its 2018 premiership coach in a season when injuries have meant for six weeks there were only 26 fit players to choose from. Simpson said some underdone players had been selected, only because they were fit.

That issue has eased slightly this week, with veteran Shannon Hurn and star half-back Elliot Yeo among the inclusions.

Simpson said the Eagles would begin rebuilding through this year’s draft.

Meanwhile, Hinkley’s future has been under the spotlight, particularly since Damien Hardwick’s departure from Richmond this week, with Hinkley expected to be contacted by the Tigers.

Hinkley is only contracted until the end of the season, and Power president David Koch insists negotiations won’t begin until August.

The Power, facing the Tigers at the MCG on Sunday, are on a seven-game winning streak, with Hinkley saying his future will not be a distraction.

“Our position as a football club has been really strong and nothing has changed,” Hinkley said.

“Our team is focused on [playing to win] and will stay focused on that; we are not being distracted.

“I have a sole focus on the performance of this team. We have said from the start of the year that we need to have a successful season. There are dangers in being distracted … and we are not going to entertain [those distracting questions]. That distraction is not going to happen.”

Simpkin snubs free agency, signs long-term deal

Jon Pierik

North Melbourne co-captain and dual Syd Barker medallist Jy Simpkin says he is “super excited” to have signed a five-year contract extension, despite a season of woe for the struggling club.

Simpkin, with a year still to run on his current contract, has ignored the opportunity to test free agency next year when he was to have been one of the prized assets, and will now remain at the club until at least the end of 2029.

The deal highlights the growing importance clubs have on signing key “pre-agents”.

High five: North Melbourne co-captain Jy Simpkin, in the jumper which bears traditional totems, has pledged his long-term future to the Kangaroos.

“I’ve been here for six or seven years now, and I love this place. I love the club, my teammates and the coaching staff,” Simpkin said.

“I have a lot of respect for everyone at the club, so when my management and the club came together to talk about a long-term deal, it was a no-brainer.”

Simpkin’s extension means only Melbourne midfielder Clayton Oliver and Carlton forward Harry McKay – signed to 2030 – have longer contracts.

Simpkin, 25, has played in 124 out of a possible 138 games through his career, highlighting his durability. He was made co-captain this season alongside Luke McDonald, in what has been a tough initiation, with the Kangaroos winning only two games, and coach Alastair Clarkson taking indefinite leave. The Roos, having had eight-straight defeats, face the top-of-the-table Magpies on Sunday.

The former No.12 draft pick has become of the league’s premier midfielders, averaging a team-high 26 disposals and an equal team-high five clearances per game last year to claim his second best and fairest.

Simpkin is a proud Yorta Yorta man, and he is the first Indigenous captain in the club’s history.

North Melbourne head of football talent Brady Rawlings said the club was delighted Simpkin and his manager Dave Trotter had snubbed free agency.

“We are absolutely rapt to have Jy commit his future to North Melbourne,” Rawlings said.

“Jy is highly regarded both on and off the field by the whole club, and his decision to sign on for a further five years despite the lure of free agency is a great show of confidence in where we are headed. We look forward to watching him continue to be a fantastic player and leader for our club in the years to come.”

Simpkin’s signing follows young gun George Wardlaw penning a two-year contract this week.

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