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Eagles won't take Blues lightly

Rhys Dickinson  April 19, 2018 1:15 PM

Simpson press conference 19.04.18 West Coast coach Adam Simpson speaks to the media prior to our clash with the Blues at the MCG

Ladder standings will have no bearing on West Coast’s approach to its round five clash with Carlton at the MCG on Saturday, according to Adam Simpson.

The Eagles’ senior coach was adamant his team had no reason to underestimate the Blues despite their 0-4 start to season 2018.

In fact, Simpson said his charges were preparing for a big response from Brendon Bolton’s men, who suffered a heavy 86-point defeat to North Melbourne in Hobart last weekend.

“Every club is different but every club is the same in a sense,” Simpson said.

“When you’re hit with a bit of adversity you do look to respond on the track and on the field. I’ve got no doubt we’re in for a bit of a battle this week.

“As much as we are about preparing ourselves, we’re preparing for Carlton at their best; home ground, backs against the wall kind of stuff.”

West Coast have caught plenty of pundits by surprise with its 3-1 start to the year, but Simpson said the club was not getting ahead of itself.

While many experts have been singing the Eagles’ praises following big wins over the Western Bulldogs and the Gold Coast Suns – plus a gutsy come-from-behind triumph against Geelong – the senior coach said they were yet to prove anything yet.

“We’re still working on our own brand and style,” Simpson revealed.

“It hasn’t come together quite yet, so we’re still working through our platform to success. We’ve started pretty well, but there’s no conversations about being complacent.”

Much of the club’s good form has come off the back of Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett’s dominance at the centre bounce and stoppages.

The pair have combined to give West Coast a plus-146 hitout differential through the first four rounds but are certain to face a stern test against Carlton big man Matthew Kreuzer on Saturday.

Simpson said Naitanui and Lycett were readying themselves for an important encounter with the Carlton enforcer despite suggestions he pulled up sore from the Blues’ clash with the Kangaroos.

“No disrespect to the ruckmen we've faced in the last four weeks, (but) I think this is the biggest challenge for Nic and Scott," he said.

"They're looking forward to it. I don't think Scott has rucked against 'Kreuz' before, so that will be a very important battle for both sides.

"It's a little bit frustrating to get some dominance like we have with our hit-outs (and not dominate clearances).
"This is a good problem for us to have. We haven't quite mastered it yet.

"If we get good supply with our ruck hits, turning that into clearances, field position and scores is the next step. We're going OK, but I reckon we can get better."

Simpson declared backman Brad Sheppard (corked quad) available for selection and said he expected star midfielder Luke Shuey to make the trip to Melbourne despite suffering a toe injury during the club's win over Gold Coast.