AFL Eagles give grieving Bazzo his space

Sport, AFL

West Coast coach Adam Simpson says he will give Rhett Bazzo as much grieving time as he needs following the tragic death of the young defender's mother.

Kylie Bazzo, 52 was killed over the weekend after falling overboard during a boat crash in Mandurah south of Perth.

Fellow passenger Debbie Burdon, 54, also died.

Rhett Bazzo lost his father, decorated WAFL player Steve Bazzo, to cancer in 2015.

West Coast have wrapped their arms around 19-year-old Rhett following the latest tragedy to strike the family.

“It's come as quite a shock to Rhett and his family,” Simpson said on Wednesday.

“They're dealing with that grief at the moment and the club is supporting them.

“We will give him as much time as he needs with his family. Football is not the priority right now for him.”

Simpson said the whole club had been shaken by the incident.

“You know, because of the tragic nature and the shock, the Monday was difficult,” Simpson said.

“So we had to adjust that and provide a little bit of support for the players as well as our staff. We got through the day.

“We will play a bit of a scratch match today and we'll keep moving forward but understand that the sensitivity around it always is with our players as well.”

West Coast won just two games last season after being struck hard by injuries to key players.

But if the likes of Oscar Allen, Dom Sheed, Elliot Yeo, Luke Shuey, Jeremy McGovern, Nic Naitanui and Tom Cole can stay on the park this year, the Eagles are hopeful of a swift rise up the AFL ladder.

“There is a new era coming,” Simpson said.

“We've got some older players, but we've got some exciting youth.

“Sheed, Oscar Allen, Yeo, Naitanui, McGovern – these guys didn't really play much last year.

“We've got some of the first years going along, building these older blokes carefully is really important. At the moment they're all in a pretty good space.”

Plenty of intrigue surrounds the fitness of Campbell Chesser, who was snared with pick No.14 in the 2021 national draft but failed to play a game last year due to a serious ankle injury.

Chesser is still working his way back to full fitness, and is no guarantee to be ready to go for the start of the season.

“It's not all about round one, it's about building through the year,” Simpson said.

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