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Eagles wary of 'Big Joe'

Travis King, AFL.com.au  May 19, 2017 1:30 PM

JoeD portrait.jpg

Joe Daniher booted five goals in last week's upset of Geelong

West Coast has hatched plans to shut down Essendon "barometer" Joe Daniher, but Eagles coach Adam Simpson isn't sure the Bombers spearhead can be completely stopped in Sunday's clash at Etihad Stadium.

Daniher is starting to fulfill predictions he would become one of the game's dominant forwards, booting 21 goals (and 18 behinds) so far this season, including a bag of five to lead last round's upset of Geelong.

The athletic 23-year-old big man is equal-seventh in the Coleman Medal race from the fourth-most scoring shots in the AFL, and could be the difference if he fires against the Eagles.

"He's gone to the next level with his performance," Simpson said.

"Taking away accuracy, he's having an All Australian year.

"We've got some things in place, but at the moment I don't think he's been stopped too often – he's always had his five to eight shots at goal, and also the small forwards are coming into play as well.

"He is a barometer."

The Eagles' backline appears capable of handling Daniher in the air, with intercept marking trio Jeremy McGovern, Elliot Yeo and Tom Barrass in excellent form.

But the Bombers' fleet-footed small forwards loom as another threat, and dashing defender Jackson Nelson is in the mix to return from a fractured wrist to combat the speedy Dons.

"Match-ups are important. The chemistry of our backs has been pretty good the last three weeks, they've really held up strong, particularly the Port game," Simpson said.

"They've found a way to get it done, our backs. I think Jackson will compliment that."

Simpson was tight-lipped about the Eagles' final 22, but pressure forward Jamie Cripps will return sooner than expected from a nasty ankle injury.

Drew Petrie will also make his comeback from a broken hand this weekend for either West Coast or East Perth.
Petrie could wear a guard after fracturing his hand in the opening minutes of his Eagles debut against former club North Melbourne in round one.

Simpson is facing a tough selection decision on whether to recall the experienced big man in favour of rookie Fraser McInnes, who competed fiercely in the ruck and up forward in last round's scrappy win over the Western Bulldogs.

"(Petrie) has missed seven weeks, so we're weighing up that. That combined with his experience and how many games he has played at Etihad," Simpson said.

"That experience might help us as well. The chemistry of the side, his form, his confidence, all those things come into play (in selection)."

If Petrie flies east, it will be on Saturday with the Eagles' other veteran players, who have been given an extra day at home with their young families.

West Coast allowed fathers Sam Mitchell, Josh Kennedy, Mark LeCras and Matt Priddis to leave a day later than the rest of the squad for the round seven trip against Port.

"It's not (open to) everyone. Our group is a little bit older, there's a lot more guys with kids and families, so we provide them the opportunity to come a bit later," Simpson said.