WEST Coast is focused on trying to break into the top eight rather than chasing Western Derby history on Sunday.

Eagles coach Adam Simpson presided over three consecutive losses to Fremantle after taking charge in 2014 but his side has since won nine straight games ahead of their next clash at Optus Stadium.

West Coast will start favourite to claim a record 10th derby in a row, which would separate it from the club's nine-match streak from when the Dockers entered the competition 25 years ago.

01:25 Mins
Published on

Match Previews R7: Fremantle v West Coast

Sportsbet's Nathan Brown and Matthew Richardson preview the derby clash between the Dockers and Eagles at Optus Stadium in Perth

Published on

Boosting the Eagles' hopes is that captain Luke Shuey is expected to return – assuming he negotiates Saturday's session – after missing just one week with a hamstring strain.

R7 TEAMS Dogs wield the axe, star Eagle named

However, Fremantle fans are likely to fill the lion's share of the 30,000 capped crowd, after the Western Australian Government backflipped on the stadium being at full capacity, because of COVID-19 concerns.

"I know when I started I think we had a bad trot (and I was) thinking we'd never win one, and then it's sort of crept up on us that we've won a few in a row now," Simpson said.

12:10 Mins
Published on

The Data Game: Is this the surprise of the season? No.1 rated player revealed

Neroli Meadows and Champion Data's Daniel Hoyne preview round seven

Published on

"I don't know how that feels for our players – it doesn't feel any different for me. It'd be good to win 10 in a row, I suppose, but that's not the theme of the week for us.

"We need a win and that's our motivation. This next month is going to be huge for everyone in the competition, in terms of how the ladder shapes."

THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?

The two WA clubs are back from an extended stint sharing a Gold Coast resort but Simpson said that experience had no bearing on this week's Western Derby.

"We did spend a month together but we didn't really hang out too much," he said.

"I know a couple of staff members at Freo, and obviously the players know each other quite well, but it wasn't like we all sat around the firepit down the bottom of the hotel and shared stories."

Simpson said the Dockers being without captain Nat Fyfe (hamstring) wasn't "the worst thing" but he was most interested in the way West Coast had improved its contested work.

The Eagles ranked 16th in the AFL for contested possession differential in the first four rounds but were second in the same category across the past fortnight.

"Our workrate to get to the contest was something we focused on in the last couple of weeks," the 2018 premiership coach said.

"It's not actually the work in and around the ball – it's been turning up and getting to the ball."