West Coast will be fighting to keep their finals hopes alive when they take on Collingwood in Sunday’s clash in Perth.
West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui is in doubt for Sunday’s AFL clash with Collingwood at Patersons Stadium in a match that could define the finals fate of both sides.
Naitanui is battling a bout of soreness, with the Eagles to wait until game day before making a final call on the 24-year-old.
West Coast (8-10) need to win in order to keep their finals hopes alive, while Collingwood (10-8) are also scrapping to secure a spot at the lower end of the top eight.
Should Naitanui be ruled out, his absence will be offset by the return of retiring great Dean Cox, who trained strongly this week after recovering from a bout of concussion.
Back-up ruckman Scott Lycett has also been named, giving West Coast plenty of ruck depth even if Naitanui fails to come up.
“He’s a little bit sore,” Eagles coach Adam Simpson said of Naitanui.
“We’ve just got to keep an eye on him. We’ll just see how he goes.
“Cox is flying. He’s jumping out of his skin. He’s been training really well and he looks as good as he ever has.”
Collingwood haven’t won in Perth since 2011, but fancy their chances of snapping that losing run after gaining some much-needed confidence in last week’s win over Port Adelaide.
The Magpies might only need two more wins to secure a finals berth, and are well placed to achieve that given they face struggling Brisbane and GWS in the run home.
But for West Coast the situation is far more cut-throat, with the Eagles needing to beat Collingwood, Essendon (away), Melbourne and Gold Coast (away) in order to sneak in.
“We’re alive as long as we win, it’s as simple as that,” Simpson said.
Patersons Stadium used to be a fortress for the Eagles, who won 21 of their 24 matches there between 2011-12.
But that aura of dominance has faded badly since the start of last year, with the Eagles losing 15 of their past 22 games on their home turf.
“Long term, if we are to be a genuine contender, we need to win at home,” Simpson said.
“Teams are very good at preparing now coming from the east. So it’s not the same threat as it used to be.
“But if we are to be a powerful side, we need to win at home, for sure.”
Collingwood recalled Alan Toovey, Clinton Young and Ben Kennedy in place of Taylor Adams (finger), Tom Langdon (omitted) and Kyle Martin (omitted).