Round one is less than a month away and West Coast midfielder Dom Sheed can’t wait for the pre-season intensity to go up a notch in Saturday’s scratch match against Fremantle.
The Eagles will host the Dockers at Mineral Resources Park and, while the clash will be closed to the public, Sheed expects an even hotter footy and more physicality than last week’s intraclub stoush.
“We’re going to train like an in-season week, get back into that sort of routine, but it’s going to be good to have a hit-out against some different opposition,” Sheed said.
“We’ve done a lot of matchplay against each other over the course of pre-season so to come up against different opposition is going to be good fun.
“You always take these games (against an opposition) seriously. You always want to win. You always want to play well.
“We’ve worked on a lot over the pre-season, so to trial that against another team is going to be good for us.
“Our intraclub hitouts have been pretty intense as is … but once you verse a different opposition again it’s going to go up.
“Because they’re your teammates (in an intraclub) you look after them a little bit, but this week not so much.”
Sheed was impressed by the likes of young key forward Oscar Allen, rebounding half-back Josh Rotham and versatile tall Jarrod Brander last Friday night.
That trio forms part of the next generation who are tasked with pushing the club forward.
“We obviously know what your (Jeremy) McGoverns, (Shannon) Hurns and (Josh) Kennedys are going to bring to the side - it’s this younger group of players who bring a lot of energy and a lot of improvement,” Sheed said.
“They played well the other night and looking forward to seeing how they develop over the next year.
“We know what our senior guys are going to bring week-in, week-out and the way that the young boys have held themselves over pre-season has been a credit to them.
“But it’s a long year ahead and we’re going to look no further than Freo this week where they’re going to look forward to having a good hitout.”
While Sheed, tireless wingman Andrew Gaff and dynamic skipper Luke Shuey - who lit up the contest early before being put on ice - were all standouts in the intraclub, their prospective new midfield partner Liam Duggan was also in the thick of the action.
The premiership defender has enjoyed an excellent summer training mainly with the onballers and looms as a likely starter in the middle of the ground.
“He’s been injury-free and he’s done a full pre-season in the midfield. He’s doing really well. He’s probably been one of our best mids to be honest, so he’s ready to go I think,” Sheed said.