Main content

Will they play? Eagles to be in cotton wool

Simpson: 'We've gone under the radar' Adam Simpson is full of praise for his squad and his club
Our leaders have been carrying a lot of the responsibility this year
Adam Simpson

WEST Coast will wrap sore defender Jeremy McGovern in cotton wool this week, but coach Adam Simpson is confident the Eagles star and blue-chip midfielder Luke Shuey will be ready for the Grand Final bout with Collingwood.

McGovern sat out the majority of the fourth quarter of Saturday's crushing 66-point preliminary final victory over a shell-shocked Melbourne outfit, after copping Christian Petracca's knee to his hip during the opening term.

The three-time All Australian was slow getting to his feet and came to the bench for several minutes before returning to the fray.

EAGLES' DEE-MOLITION JOB Full match coverage and stats

Shuey needed treatment in the rooms during the second term after tweaking his ankle and had ice strapped to the inside of his left foot post-game.

However, neither Eagles star is expected to be racing the clock for the club's stunning return to the season-decider next Saturday, while spearhead Josh Kennedy appeared to get through unscathed despite some bruising knocks in marking contests.

 

"(McGovern) didn't play (most of) the last quarter, and he's probably the one guy we need to look after this week," Simpson said post-match.

"(We have) a couple of sore players, but that's this time of year.

"(Shuey) came back on, so I think it was your garden variety ankle sprain, so I dare say he'll be OK.

"A couple of other guys needed some attention, but I don't think we're going to be needing to push anyone to the line. I think we'll be OK."

KENNEDY THE KEY Five things we learned

Simpson was glowing with pride for his players after a clinical dismantling of the AFL's most potent side at Optus Stadium.

West Coast hit Melbourne hard with intent and tackle pressure in the opening minutes, and the shellshocked Demons never recovered in a hostile environment. 

The Eagles’ underrated midfield brigade held sway, and Demons ruckman Max Gawn's influence was minimal, as the home side piled on 10 goals to nil to kill the match by half-time.

"I'm not sure if it's beyond your wildest dreams (the performance), but we executed our plans really well, we kept it simple, we played our own way, we didn't change anything," Simpson said.

THE MOMENT Kennedy gets the ball rolling

"Our forwards converted early. The pressure we put on midfield, but we actually delivered in the front half.

"The supply was always a big issue for us, the contest, the stuff that Melbourne do really, really well and they've been consistent all year.

"I thought we'd have to kick over 100 points to win with the way Melbourne play."

Spearhead Josh Kennedy led the attack which scored 121 points, finishing with four goals in his second game back from a hairline fracture in his shin, with sidekick Jack Darling, Mark LeCras and Jamie Cripps chipping in with three apiece.

GOLDEN EAGLES Every West Coast player rated

"He's a pro, JK. He's missed a lot of footy this year," Simpson said.

"He was a bit rusty against the Pies early on (in the qualifying final), but he didn’t look too rusty today.

"Hopefully he's pulled up well and he'll be available next week."

 

Kennedy, who went scoreless in the 2015 Grand Final horror show against Hawthorn, will be one of 12 survivors set to return to the big stage next week.

How that experience would help them Simpson wasn't sure, but he believed West Coast was more prepared this time around.

WATCH Three moments that mattered

"We are different to 2015, it's a different style of play, it's a different maturity amongst our players. Does that mean anything with the build-up? I don't know," he said.

"But our leaders have been carrying a lot of the responsibility this year and they've really grown, spread the load and on-field gone to another level.

"They're really humble. They're not extroverts, and that's OK, neither am I. We acknowledge when we do things well, but we stay pretty grounded, so I'm hoping that we're in better shape than we were last time.

"Last time was a little bit of 'what's going on here?'.

"It was our second year together and 'how did this happen?', whereas this year I feel like we're a little bit more settled."

WATCH Adam Simpson's full post-match media conference

Despite beating Collingwood twice this year, including at the MCG in round 17 and in a pulsating qualifying final, Simpson is under no illusions about the challenge ahead against the Pies.

Nathan Buckley's men ruthlessly tore apart reigning premier Richmond on Friday night to return to the Grand Final for the first time since 2011.

"We played them a few weeks ago, we saw what they brought. It took until the last five minutes for the game to be broken open," Simpson said.

"(Mason) Cox was amazing (against Richmond), so we've got some work to do to get over the line this week, but you've got to be in it to win it."