Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has raised concerns over the growing use of extreme defensive tactics in the AFL after his side ground out a dour eight-point win over Sydney on Sunday.
West Coast’s midfielders will be hoping to avoid becoming the latest victims of Dustin Martin’s famed fend-offs when they lock horns with the star Tiger in Sunday’s AFL clash in Perth.
The top-of-the-table showdown is set to draw a near capacity crowd at the 60,000-seat Optus Stadium.
West Coast are riding high following seven straight wins, but the match against Richmond will test their premiership credentials.
Richmond also boast a 7-1 record in what has been a perfect start to their premiership defence.
Brownlow medallist Martin will hold a major key to Richmond’s victory hopes on Sunday.
The 26-year-old tallied just 16 disposals in Sunday’s 10-point win over North Melbourne.
But he played a crucial role late in the game, having a hand in goals to Trent Cotchin and Dan Butler.
Martin’s fend-offs have become the stuff of legend, and West Coast recruit Brendon Ah Chee said he and his teammates were keen to avoid them.
“He’s in some unreal form, so it’s going to be awesome to go against him,” Ah Chee said.
“Hopefully he doesn’t put a hand print in my chest and fend me off.
“Everyone knows it (the fend-off) is going to happen. You know the palm is coming your way.
“It’s just in that instant having the preparation, knowing it’s coming and trying to do something about it.
“It happens so quick and he’s such a powerful player, that sometimes it’s hard to stop.”
West Coast will again be without star midfielder Luke Shuey (hamstring), but Lewis Jetta (calf), Dom Sheed (foot), and Jeremy McGovern (calf) are all chances to return.
Ruckman Nic Naitanui will be back after serving his one-match suspension.
Ah Chee said the match against Richmond would be the perfect test for West Coast.
“We’ve been building to a really big challenge like this,” he said.
“You can’t be the best unless you beat the best, and Richmond are the best in the competition.”
Ah Chee made his Eagles debut in last week’s 25-point win over GWS, tallying 21 disposals and laying five tackles in a solid performance.
The former Power utility expects to split his time between West Coast’s midfield and forward line.
Ah Chee was grounded by an ankle injury earlier this season, and he knows he needs to prove his worth if he is to earn a contract extension beyond this year.