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"Every week there is so much on the line"

Rhys Dickinson  July 17, 2017 12:20 PM

Shuey press conference 17.07.17 Eagles midfielder Luke Shuey speaks to the media after the Eagles' win over Fremantle
AFL 2017 Round 17 - Fremantle v West Coast

Luke Shuey says West Coast's midfield is preparing for a fierce battle with the Pies' elite on-ball unit

West Coast’s engine room needs to offer the club’s elite back line more support in the run to September, according to Luke Shuey.

The Eagles vice-captain conceded the team’s on-ball unit got touched up during the club’s 30-point Carlton Draught Derby victory over the Dockers at Domain Stadium.

West Coast halved the contested possession battle but lost the clearance war 28-40 against the likes of 2015 Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe, Lachie Neale, David Mundy and Connor Blakely.

“It’s certainly a negative that we got beaten around the ball,” Shuey said.

“We would have liked to have won that battle, but we didn’t

“If we turn that around, in terms of the contest and clearances, I’m sure we’ll get a better result, but you can’t always win that battle. We were up against a really good midfield yesterday and we knew that.”

Shuey said the on-ball unit needed to buckle down to rival Collingwood’s renowned midfield at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

“They bat really deep; they’ve got five or six guys who can go through there and have a big impact,” Shuey said.

“They’ve touched us up over in Melbourne the last couple of times we’ve played them there. We’re preparing for a really good challenge.”

While the Eagles midfield has some work today before the team flies to Victoria on Friday, the club’s defensive unit is brimming with confidence following a fine display against Fremantle.

In spite of losing the inside 50 count 46-57, West Coast managed to restrict Ross Lyon’s Dockers to just five goals.

Shuey said he couldn’t be happier with the way the back line went about its business yesterday.

He also suggested that, in a roundabout way, the return of West Coast spearhead Josh Kennedy helped shore up the team’s defensive stocks.

“Our backline was outstanding yesterday and they’ve done it so many times before; they’ve held up the fort and won the game for us,” he said.

“It’s always nice to get a two-time Coleman medallist back in the line-up and send your best intercept marker (Jeremy McGovern) back down back, where he plays his best footy.

“He’s such an asset for us across half back, Gov. Although he can have an impact up forward, you just have so much belief that he can get the job done when he’s down back, along with the other five backs down there.”

With just six rounds left to qualify for the finals, Shuey said the Eagles were wary of the high stakes nature of every impending contest.

He hoped the Eagles could take one more step towards bedding down a top eight spot with a win over Collingwood this weekend.

“Every week there is so much on the line; you have to be at your best otherwise you can get blown out of the park pretty quickly, as we’ve found out a couple of times this year when we’ve been off the ball a little bit and we’ve been smashed,” he said.

“It’s such an even competition. Teams are turning up to play every single week and Collingwood will be no different.”