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We have to travel better: Simpson

Travis King, AFL.com.au  April 21, 2017 1:15 PM

GilesMCG portrait.jpg

West Coast has lost four of its past five matches at the MCG

Adam Simpson admits West Coast's interstate form needs to improve, amid calls from Wayne Carey for the Eagles to "put up or shut up" against Hawthorn at the MCG this Sunday.

West Coast is in the unfamiliar situation of starting heavy favourites against the under-siege and winless Hawks, despite the Eagles losing four of their past five games at the Grand Final venue.

Carey told Triple M this week that the Eagles' time for excuses would be over and their away form would be "crap" if they can't knock off Hawthorn.

"He's paid to make comments," Simpson said in response to his former North Melbourne premiership teammate.

"I'm not going to get involved with 'Duck's' commentary, but look, we haven't got a leg to stand on when we lose.
"So all we can do is play at our best.

"I don't think winning and losing is the issue for us when we travel – we've actually had some pretty good wins interstate in the last five times we've played.

"What's disappointing for us is we haven't played at our best when we've travelled, on occasions."

The Eagles defeated finalists GWS and Adelaide on the road during a late-season surge last year, and overcame a competitive North Melbourne in round one at Etihad Stadium.

But their most recent trip to the MCG ended in a bitterly disappointing 11-point defeat to Richmond, when the Tigers were tougher in the wet after half-time in round three.

Simpson denied West Coast has a "hoodoo" at the 'G, but admitted his side needed to play with better intent away from Domain Stadium.

"I'd be more than happy to say we had a good go, our mindset was right and we just weren't good enough, but unfortunately when we don't win I'm not saying that," Simpson said.

"That's a great challenge for us and we're looking forward to it."

The Eagles will make at least one change for the Hawks clash, with champion midfielder Sam Mitchell (ankle) unable to prove his fitness to take on his old side.

Tall forward Jack Darling (ankle) needs to get through a light session on Saturday to take his place, and West Coast will take an extra emergency to Melbourne in case.

Simpson wanted to "sleep on it" before deciding the final side, as he weighs up the value of playing two ruckmen or an extra onballer, and whether All Australian backman Jeremy McGovern stays forward.

McGovern (two goals) showed promise in attack after Darling was ruled out of last week's win over Sydney.

"We kept a team to 65 points and every week we've gotten better with our defence, and to do it without 'Gov' down there was really pleasing for the club," Simpson said.

"So now it's a legitimate option (keeping him forward alongside Josh Kennedy and Darling).

"All of them are pretty good at ground level, so that along with two rucks, is a question we've got to answer ourselves about whether we can handle that and whether the game has moved on from playing so tall."