West Coast veteran Andrew Gaff won't return to the senior side this weekend, with coach Adam Simpson leaving the dual All-Australian in Western Australia to "try and get some form" before returning to the selection mix.

Gaff was dropped for last week's clash against GWS alongside rebounding defender Alex Witherden, who will also feature in the WAFL for the Eagles reserves' meeting with Swan Districts on Saturday.

Their absence will see rookie Harvey Johnston head over to Melbourne as the travelling emergency, while young tall Jack Williams will return to the Simpson's side as a supporting forward-ruck option in place of Harry Barnett.

Barnett battled against Giant Kieren Briggs last weekend in just his second AFL game, with Simpson wanting to give the second-year ruckman a breather after a testing Round 2 appearance.

Ryan Maric has held his place in the squad, whether that be as a starter or as the tactical sub, with Simpson confirming a number of selection calls when speaking to media on Friday.

"Gaffy won't be playing, we'll keep him in the WAFL," the premiership coach said.

"He'll stay [in WA] and play to try and get some form. Same with Witherden.

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"We'll take young Harvey over as a traveller, just to get that experience. He's had a good couple of weeks, and we're happy to play him but he's probably not quite ready.

"We'll give [Harry] a rest. I reckon he got 10-15 games of experience in 60 minutes (last week). He'll go back (to the WAFL) and get going on his craft. You don't really want to bring these kids in for one week then push them out, but it's a bit different for young ruckmen.

"He'll have his turn when we lock him in for a long while, but we wanted to give him a sniff, because he's done a really good job over the last three or four weeks in the WAFL.

"We'll stick with Bailey Williams this week."

Jack Williams was among the Eagles' best performers in the club's final WAFL practice match of the pre-season, booting three goals from a dominant aerial outing for West Coast against Subiaco in a heavy win.

Williams endured a baptism of fire in his first two seasons in the top flight as he was called on to play senior roles while still in the early stages of his development, but Simpson has liked what he's seen from the Rossmoyne product so far in 2024.

"He's improved from last year," Simpson said.

"I think he played before he was quite ready last year, just through certain circumstances. A bit of last-man-standing stuff. But he learnt a lot last year and had a really good pre-season.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 16: Jack Williams of the Eagles looks dejected after a loss during the 2023 AFL Round 18 match between the West Coast Eagles and the Richmond Tigers at Optus Stadium on July 16, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"He's 20, he's still young. He took 10-11 marks and kicked [three] goals last week. He comes in as a forward that can support and will probably second ruck for us as well."

The Eagles will finalise their 23-man squad for Round 3 at 5:00pm (AEDT) on Friday afternoon.

Veteran forward Liam Ryan is a week or two away from returning via the WAFL from a significant hamstring injury sustained during the pre-season, while Dom Sheed (foot) and Jai Culley (knee) are also in consideration over the coming weeks, while Harry Edwards (hand) will feature against Swan Districts in his return from injury.

 2024-03-31T02:00:00Z 
Bulldogs WON BY 76 POINTS
Marvel Stadium
WB   
106
FT
30
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