Eagles on guard for Suns grass-muncher Rowell
West Coast coach Adam Simpson predicts Gold Coast midfielder Matt Rowell is on the verge of taking another step forward in his AFL career - and he doesn't think it's because of the pre-game grass munching.
Simpson couldn't help but laugh when vision emerged of Rowell eating some Carrara Stadium grass while warming up ahead of the Suns' loss to Melbourne last week.
The bizarre pre-match routine became a big talking point on social media this week, and cameras will no doubt be squarely focused on Rowell during the warm-up to Friday night's clash with the Eagles at Optus Stadium.
"I had a laugh at it," Simpson said. "It's a routine. He might have been doing it his whole life.
"Maybe we can spray the grass with something before (Friday's game)."
Rowell's AFL career started with a bang in 2020 before being stalled by serious injuries.
The 21-year-old rebounded strongly last year to play out a full season for the first time, and he's averaging career highs in disposals (20.6), tackles (8) and clearances (7.8) in 2023.
Simpson has been impressed by Rowell's trajectory, and feels there's more to come.
"I don't think it's connected to the munching on the grass. He's a very good, talented player," Simpson said.
"He's just about to take another step forward."
Another Suns player Simpson has been impressed with is midfielder Noah Anderson, who has noticeably stepped up since Touk Miller succumbed to a knee injury in round six.
"He's gone to another level in the last few weeks with Miller going out of the side," Simpson said.
"It looks like he's really grown with the responsibility."
The Eagles also have an emerging star in their midst - first-year midfielder Reuben Ginbey.
Ginbey has been handed a series of tagging roles on some of the AFL's best midfielders this season but Simpson has also earmarked how the 18-year-old plays when he doesn't have a shut-down role.
"Last week we saw him express his speed and run a little bit more. That was without a role," Simpson said.
"He's probably our fittest player, he runs (two kilometres) in under six minutes, and he'd be in the top three or four with speed."
Liam Duggan will captain West Coast on Friday night, with Simpson keen to give Oscar Allen and Dom Sheed a go at being skipper in future weeks.