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West Coast Eagles

Schofield preparing for bittersweet Grand Final

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 22: Aaron vandenBerg of the Demons fends off Will Schofield of the Eagles during the 2018 AFL Second Preliminary Final match between the West Coast Eagles and the Melbourne Demons at Optus Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media)
Will Schofield takes down Melbourne's Aaron vandenBerg at Optus Stadium

Next Saturday’s Grand Final clash with Collingwood will be bittersweet for Will Schofield.

The West Coast veteran is obviously thrilled to be playing in his second decider at the MCG, but he cannot help but feel for fellow defender Brad Sheppard, who will miss the contest after suffering a season-ending hamstring injury in the qualifying final.

Schofield, who has been in and out of that club’s starting 22 and battled his own hamstring injuries this year, earned a recall to the senior side after Sheppard damaged the central tendon in his left hamstring during a high-speed contest with the Magpie Jordan De Goey.

The 29-year-old said although he was grateful to get another shot at premiership glory he was still coming to terms with the way his opportunity came about.

Sheppard had gone uninjured for 95-consecutive games before going down at Optus Stadium a fortnight ago.

“Personally, he’s a really good mate of mine, Shep,” Schofield told The West Australian.

“I think it’d be easy to be selfish and say ‘Great, I get a game now’. But my first thoughts were for Shep.

“I was hoping he’d be able to get back for the Grand Final when he first did it. I’m happy to come in and play a role but the way the team was going, if no one came out, I was going to have to watch on.

“He’s been absolutely consistent for three or four years now. I think he’s unlucky not to have been all-Australian.

“From a team perspective, it was incredibly disappointing to lose him because he’s such a leader of our back line.”

Meanwhile, Schofield reckons the Eagles will be attacking Saturday’s Grand Final differently after conceding the club was “just happy to be there” in 2015.

West Coast made the 2015 decider after missing finals the previous two years and Schofield said the group felt like they had already proved a point before taking on Hawthorn at the home of football.

“It’ll definitely be different. I don’t think it’s out of school to say we were just happy to be there in 2015,” Schofield said.

“Our performance probably portrayed that. We know we’ve got one more week to go. We don’t want to just win a prelim.

“That stems from the disappointment of ’15 for us.

“Being a senior player, hopefully I can help some boys through this week.

“All you need to really do is prepare like it’s a normal game, do the little things right and that’s what wins grand finals.”