AN ALMIGHTY task for an almightily unfazed Eagle.
As West Coast and Collingwood prepare to clash on the biggest day on the football calendar, Eagles midfielder Mark Hutchings is staring at the unenviable task of dampening the influence of in-form Magpie Steele Sidebottom.
The Eagles tagger restricted Sidebottom to just 18 disposals in round 17, but the Magpie was back to his best in the Qualifying final with 27 touches.
BIG MAN'S BIG DECISION Will Lycett re-sign?
Sidebottom has elevated his game to another level this season - reflected in Monday night's Brownlow medal where he finished runner-up (24 votes) behind Tom Mitchell (28).
Speaking to AFL.com.au during the AFL Grand Final Parade, Hutchings wasn’t daunted by the challenge.
"Oh, I'm pretty relaxed and happy, they're the two main (emotions) I'm feeling," Hutchings said on Friday morning.
"Sidebottom's obviously a pretty classy player to finish second in the Brownlow.
"If I find myself on him, I must be switched on and be prepared for him at his best, or else …
"I have to continue playing instinctive footy, just like I've been doing all year."
Saturday's Grand Final isn’t Hutchings' first rodeo.
He is one of 12 West Coast players taking the field this week to have suffered the hurt of a Grand Final defeat – when Hawthorn won its third successive flag in 2015.
But Hutchings emphasised there are few similarities to that losing Eagles side.
"It was three years ago, things have changed, our team has changed, the opposition have changed," he said.
"It's a fair bit different this time around."
Despite rain showering thousands of passionate fans on a cold, Melbourne morning, Hutchings shot down suggestions conditions could define which side reigns supreme on Saturday.
"I think the weather means nothing," Hutchings said.
"We're happy to play in 14 degrees, 17 degrees, it doesn't matter, it's a Grand Final.
"We can't control conditions."
According to ruckman Scott Lycett – who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday – it's clear the Eagles aren't buying into the hype surrounding Grand Final week.
"The real reason we're here is to play a game of footy on Saturday for two hours, that's the only thing we're focusing on, (not the Grand Final Parade)," Lycett said.
MISSING PART OF TEAM Eagle trio are playing their part
The Eagles ruckman matched up on Melbourne big man Max Gawn in last weekend’s semi-final victory, but his task becomes no easier against Brodie Grundy - Collingwood's most influential player – on Saturday.
"For probably the last five weeks, (Nathan) Vardy and I have some really tough challenges in the ruck, obviously Saturday will be nothing different.
"Hopefully we can emulate last week's form."
Lycett was full of praise for Hutchings, but implored it wasn’t solely the Eagles tagger's responsibility to secure their side's first premiership since 2006.
"One person isn't going to win us the game, it’s a 22-man job," Lycett said.
"At the end of the day it's going to be a team effort and that's what we pride ourselves on."