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Simpson confident Naitanui will ‘be fine’ after report for angry shove

“I don’t think there’s anything in that. I’m pre-empting he’ll be fine,” Simpson said after the 55-point win.

“I think someone pulled his hair, and he might have responded with that. But I don’t think there was much in it, but who knows.

“There was no injury. So I think he’ll be OK. But who knows.”

A heated melee ensued from that incident, meaning there could be a number of other fines handed out.

Several other spot fires during the game will also be looked at.

A fan who threw a drink at Merrett during his scuffle with Naitanui will also be in strife if they can be identified.

West Coast will face either Geelong or Collingwood in a semi-final at the MCG next Friday.

A melee started after Zach Merrett pulled one of Nic Naitanui's dreadlocks, with the big Eagle then shoving the Bomber.

A melee started after Zach Merrett pulled one of Nic Naitanui’s dreadlocks, with the big Eagle then shoving the Bomber.Credit:AAP

Simpson says his team’s MCG date with destiny won’t hold any fears, but he knows the “mountain” ahead will be tough to climb.

If they win next week’s semi-final, they’ll face either Brisbane at the Gabba or Richmond at the MCG in a preliminary final.

Simpson is taking comfort from West Coast’s recent hot form at the MCG, with the Eagles having won five of their past six matches at the venue.

Their solitary loss during that period was a six-point defeat at the hands of Richmond three weeks ago.

Simpson was proud of his team’s performance against the Bombers, and he’s excited to see what they can achieve during the remainder of the finals series.

“We’re alive,” Simpson said after the 17.14 (116) to 9.7 (61) win. “We’ll be playing at the ‘G next Friday. That doesn’t hold any real fears for us.

“But we understand it’s a pretty big mountain to climb. So we’re happy with [the win over Essendon], but probably not satisfied yet.”


Josh Kennedy’s four-goal haul helped spark the Eagles in the elimination final against Essendon.

But it was Naitanui who arguably wielded an even bigger influence.

Naitanui played just 53 per cent game time in his first match back from an ankle injury, but he still finished with 14 disposals, 24 hit-outs, and four crunching tackles.

The 29-year-old’s deft ruck taps helped set up numerous scoring opportunities, while his bullocking work at ground level was also crucial.

“He’s probably the player with the biggest influence in our side. That’s just reality,” Simpson said.

“We’ve had him for four games this year. I think we’ve all moved on from [the criticism that] he doesn’t take enough marks, or he doesn’t do [other things].

“I think we all now understand what he can produce, especially with the 6-6-6 rule. He doesn’t have to have a lot of possessions to have influence.”

Simpson said defender Jackson Nelson, who copped a heavy knock to the head, pulled up well.


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