West Coast captain Luke Shuey says he's still got plenty of love for Willie Rioli despite the star forward's "bad mistake" that could affect the club's flag hopes.
The Eagles are set to decide by next week whether to sack Rioli after the 25-year-old was caught with 24.23g of cannabis during a screening at Darwin airport on April 23.
West Coast were furious Rioli failed to inform them about the incident, with the club only finding out last week when a journalist called them to ask about it.
It then took the Eagles several days to be able to get in contact with Rioli, who has been living in the Tiwi Islands.
Rioli's two-year ban for twice substituting urine during an anti-doping test is due to expire on August 20, but whether he graces an AFL field again remains to be seen.
Shuey says he has empathy for Rioli, but acknowledges the goalsneak has now made a series of bad mistakes.
"My relationship with Willie has been good. I love him," Shuey told Triple M on Friday.
"Initially (when I heard the news), from a bit of a selfish point of view you put the footy first and you go, 'Has this cost us the chance of getting a really good player back?'
"But then you try to take the emotion out of it. I'm probably more of an empathetic person than what a lot of people would think I would be in this situation. I try to see the point of view from the person in the wrong a little bit.
"I can understand, certainly not what he's done, but a lot of the things he's done in the past maybe he hasn't been educated properly enough. I try to go into bat for Willie as much as I can, but this is a bad mistake obviously.
"The culture up there (in the Tiwi Islands) is totally different so there needs to be an element of understanding Willie and where he's come from. But in saying that, it doesn't excuse his actions."
Shuey said it was important for the club to show a united front when the decision on Rioli is handed down.
"The important thing is, whatever decision the board or the footy club make, we get everyone to buy into it," Shuey said.
"If he's with us going forward, we all buy into that and continue to make him a good person and a player.
"We don't condone what he's done. He made the wrong decision, he's made a couple of wrong decisions in his past."
Rioli avoided a conviction and was instead placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to drug possession earlier this week.
Australian Associated Press