Jack Darling WON'T be welcomed back to West Coast after vax drama, says Eagles great Will Schofield

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Jack Darling WON’T be welcomed back to West Coast with open arms after vax drama derailed club’s off-season, says Eagles great Will Schofield

  • Jack Darling refused to take Covid-19 vaccine and was barred by the Eagles
  • Star forward hasn’t been involved in club activity since January
  • Darling has since been jabbed and is in line to return to camp as early as Friday
  • Will Schofield believes his former teammate will have to rebuild bridges 
  • West Coast open AFL season at home against Gold Coast on March 20 

West Coast legend Will Schofield believes Jack Darling will face a frosty return to the Eagles camp after his vaccination drama.

The 29-year-old hasn’t taken part in any club activity since January, when the Eagles revealed he had failed to meet Covid-19 vaccination requirements after refusing to take up the vaccine.

However, the forward has since been jabbed and could be set to return to the Eagles’ camp before the weekend as long as he receives official paperwork clearance in time.

Jack Darling is set to join the West Coast Eagles camp after being vaccinated against Covid-19

Jack Darling is set to join the West Coast Eagles camp after being vaccinated against Covid-19

His return to the fold means that, against all odds, he could be in line to feature for West Coast as soon as he builds up his match fitness.  

Schofield, however, believes the Eagles gun will have to rebuild bridges with his teammates.

‘If I was still a player at West Coast, I would find it difficult to accept Jack Darling back into the group for this season,’ the former defender, who won the 2018 Premiership alongside Darling, wrote on Code Sports.

Will Schofield believes Darling's absence was selfish and did not help the Eagles

Will Schofield believes Darling’s absence was selfish and did not help the Eagles

Schofield claimed Darling will have to rebuild bridges to be accepted by his teammates

Schofield claimed Darling will have to rebuild bridges to be accepted by his teammates

‘For footballers, everything is overridden by the desire to win and, for the last three months, Darling’s absence has not helped the Eagles in their quest to do that. That would be hard for me to come to terms with.

‘I know there are people in that building who are thinking the same way.’

Darling has scored 437 goals in 11 seasons with the Eagles and was West Coast’s leading goalscorer in three of the last four years.

Speaking on Thursday, Fox Sports analyst David King said Darling’s impending return was a major boost for coach Adam Simpson ahead of the season opener against Gold Coast next Sunday.

The 29-year-old has led the Eagles' goalscoring charts in three of the last four seasons

The 29-year-old has led the Eagles’ goalscoring charts in three of the last four seasons

‘They kicked six and 10 goals in the previous two (pre-season) games. They needed someone down there to threaten,’ he said.

‘Liam Ryan, Tim Kelly, Jamaine Jones, Willie Rioli, Jack Petruccelle […] they were the goalkickers last week.

‘Sometimes you just need a centre half-forward/full-forward type player to just be stamping three or four every second week, and that’s Jack.

The Eagles lost star defender Brad Sheppard to an early retirement in the offseason

The Eagles lost star defender Brad Sheppard to an early retirement in the offseason

Sheppard was forced to hang up his boots after suffering two major concussions last year

Sheppard was forced to hang up his boots after suffering two major concussions last year

‘It’s huge news for Adam Simpson. They just needed some positive news.’

The Eagles have had a nightmare offseason, with top draft pick Campbell Chesser joining a lengthy injury list already containing star midfield trio Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo and Dom Sheed, utility Oscar Allen, defender Tom Cole and forward Jamie Cripps.

To compound matters, the 2018 Premiers also lost All-Australian defender Brad Sheppard to an early retirement after he suffered two major concussions last season.   

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