The West Coast Eagles and Western Bulldogs are good footy teams. They’re on the right path and should be thereabouts again next season. But – and there’s no two ways about this – they both failed in 2020.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson says he’s been spending some nervous nights in front of the TV as he attempts to guide his side into the finals for a sixth straight year.
The Eagles (10-5) would have to be on the receiving end of a calamitous series of events in order to miss the finals in 2020.
But it hasn’t helped ease the nerves of Simpson, who is still searching for one more to give his team an iron-clad finals berth.
West Coast have the chance to achieve that in Thursday night’s clash with St Kilda at the Gabba.
Wins against St Kilda and lowly North Melbourne would give West Coast a shot at snaring a prized top-four berth and a double finals chance.
“It’s been a bit nerve-wracking watching footy on TV every night,” Simpson said.
“I’m starting to barrack for sides which I don’t normally do. There’s nothing wrong with doing that is there?
“We still need to win another game (to guarantee finals). The Saints are right behind us. If we drop this one, definitely top four is out of contention. If we win it, we’re still in the hunt.”
West Coast’s growing injury crisis has also jangled Simpson’s nerves.
The Eagles will be missing five premiership midfielders when they take on the Saints, with Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo, Mark Hutchings, Jack Redden and Dom Sheed all injured.
It means defenders such as Tom Cole, Liam Duggan and Jackson Nelson will be sent in for some midfield minutes, along with debutant Hamish Brayshaw.
West Coast will be bolstered by the return of ruckman Nic Naitanui and defender Shannon Hurn, but Lewis Jetta (calf) was another player to be added to the injury list.
St Kilda (9-6) are attempting to secure their first finals berth since 2011 and have bolstered their attacking power with the recall of Max King and Tim Membrey.