It’s been a year of ups and downs, but the WAFL Eagles are within reach of the finals as they prepare for a potential do-or-die clash with East Fremantle on Sunday.
Sitting in sixth position on the ladder, West Coast will need to defeat East Fremantle and rely on other results to fall their way in order to feature in September.
Despite the talk surrounding finals, captain Fraser McInnes said the side could not afford to get caught up in the finals chatter and needed to stay focused on Sunday’s contest with the Sharks.
“You can’t deny that the boys are definitely keen to play finals footy,” McInnes said.
“I wouldn’t say there’s one eye on it, but we know that if we don’t win on Sunday then we’re no chance of making it.
“We’re focused on winning a game on Sunday and we’ll know our fate leading into it.”
East Fremantle have found form in recent weeks, having knocked off East Perth before going down to Perth by 13 points at the weekend.
McInnes said the side had reviewed the Sharks' style of play, however he insisted their focus had been more on executing their own game plan.
“We’ve scouted East Freo a bit this week,” he said.
“They’re moving the ball pretty freely and quite direct, so we’ve had a look at that.
“But we’re not overly focused on what they’re doing, we want to keep playing our brand of footy and putting our best foot forward.”
The Eagles were sitting last on the ladder with a 2-7 record at the mid-point of the season.
Since then, they have won six of their last eight matches to sit just one game out of the top five.
McInnes said he was proud of the side’s resilience after what was a tough start to the season.
“I’m proud of the body of work that we’ve put in,” he said.
“We were coming last on the ladder at the mid-season bye, so it could have gone two ways. We could have either stayed there or we could have climbed up the ladder.
“We’re now in a position where if one or two things go our way we could play finals footy, granted that we win.
“So I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do, I think it’s been a good year to date but hopefully there’s a few weeks to go.”
With a finals spot on the line, West Coast have made several key inclusions with Luke Foley, Brodie Riach, and Josh Rotham all returning for Sunday’s clash.
McInnes believes the inclusions will help to lift the spirit amongst the playing group.
“I think it’ll lift the spirit and also keep the boys pretty hungry to play well,” he said.
“It’s going to be tough to get into this final 22 and if there are more teams selected in the future it’ll be tough to make the 22.
“So no doubt the boys will be hungry to play well and put their best foot forward.”
Bouncedown is 2.15pm at Mineral Resources Park on Sunday.
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