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AFL 2017 Round 19 - West Coast v Brisbane

Adam Simpson says West Coast is fighting for its life this weekend

Adam Simpson delivered a clear message ahead of the club’s crunch clash with Carlton at Domain Stadium: “We are fighting for our lives.”

West Coast’s senior coach said the club could not afford to look beyond tomorrow’s encounter with the Blues if it was any chance of challenging for a top-eight spot come season’s end.

“We’re not in a position to look past this week,” Simpson said.

“We haven’t won two in a row since round seven. We are fighting for our lives this week.”

Simpson admitted the club’s eight-point loss to St Kilda left a bitter taste in his mouth, but he was confident the squad was over the disappointment and firmly focused on producing a four-quarter effort against Carlton.

“The sense of another one that got away from us was difficult to digest for all of us,” he conceded.

“There was a sense of anger about that, but there’s still a sense of resolve about our group. They’re quite galvanised and the group is pretty tight in terms of unity.

“We reflected on it, we went through it and we were pretty honest with our feedback. But, with a six-day break, we had to move on pretty quick.”

Carlton might be in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, but West Coast cannot afford to take Brendan Bolton’s side lightly.

The Blues are a much-improved outfit in 2017 and have claimed some big scalps, including Greater Western Sydney, Essendon, Sydney and Collingwood.

Simpson said his side was preparing for a tight encounter against the Blues.

“Looking at Carlton and how they go about it, they make you fight and that’s what we’re going to get this week,” he said.

“I think the weather is going to be a bit indifferent, so that’s another challenge in itself. We’re expecting a pretty tough, physical game.”

Simpson suggested that West Coast’s match committee invested some extra time pondering selections and strategies to counter the influence Blues’ ruckman Matthew Kreuzer ahead of tomorrow’s clash.

The panel eventually settled on bringing Nathan Vardy back into the fold to support veteran Drew Petrie, who has led the club’s ruck division for the past two weeks.

Simpson said Vardy deserved a recall on the back of his dominant performance in the WAFL on Saturday, in which he kicked two goals, collected seven contested possessions and effected seven hit-outs while playing as East Perth’s forward-ruck.

“He played some minutes at East Perth as a forward. Eventually we want to get him in as a forward as he’s been carrying a lot of the load as a ruckman,” Simpson said about Vardy.

We’ve had that combination for a while (Petrie and Vardy), but they are both forwards. We are trying to get them both to learn that ruck craft and there’s some pretty good ruckman to confront them in the next few weeks, none more so that Kreuzer this weekend.”