West Coast coach Adam Simpson has laughed off the mind games ahead of Friday night’s blockbuster clash with the Western Bulldogs, saying on-field intent rather than off-field spying will decide the result.
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge was tetchy on Thursday morning when asked about any changes he’d make for the Perth match.
And there was a shock when the teams were released later on Thursday, with Bulldogs skipper Bob Murphy ruled out because of general soreness.
Jake Stringer (knee) and Josh Dunkley (shoulder) were also forced out, paving the way for Jack Redpath, Bailey Dale and Lukas Webb to return to the side.
Beveridge gave no hint Murphy would be out when he fronted media earlier, and he was reluctant to talk about who else would be in or out.
“West Coast aren’t going to declare their team this early in the day, and I’m not going to either,” Beveridge said.
“I just want it to be a level playing field.
“Have you been watching what’s been happening with the ruck situation over the last couple of weeks? Yeah – so next question.”
Simpson also didn’t want to reveal his squad ahead of time, especially the ruck area where he’d been weighing up dropping Nathan Vardy or Jonathan Giles.
In the end, Simpson decided to axe Giles and bring in ruckman/forward Fraser McInness to partner Vardy.
In the only other change, fit-again midfielder Liam Duggan replaced Mark Hutchings.
Simpson couldn’t help but notice how secretive the Bulldogs had been this week.
“I’ve noticed they’re training at three different venues this afternoon,” Simpson said with a smile, before adding his spies would merely wait at the airport to figure out the Bulldogs’ squad.
“They are little side games that are entertaining, I suppose.
“There’ll be plenty of time for both teams to strategise with selection.
“But that’s secondary really. It’s going to be about the collective.
“It’s a massive challenge – probably the biggest of the year.”
Beveridge and Simpson worked together as assistant coaches at Hawthorn.
Simpson said Beveridge’s uptight nature on Thursday might have been an act.
“He’s not an uptight type of guy. He might have been putting that on. He’s pretty cruisy,” Simpson said.
The Bulldogs ended West Coast’s premiership hopes last year with a shock 47-point win at Domain Stadium.
Simpson said revenge wasn’t a motivating factor for the re-match.
“We used a bit of vision of that game for strategic purposes and what they’re trying to do with the ball,” Simpson said.
“But I won’t be using that as motivation. It’s a completely different season and atmosphere.”
West Coast’s ruck woes are set to ease slightly in coming weeks, with Drew Petrie poised for an earlier-than-expected comeback.
Petrie was initially set to miss about 10 weeks after breaking several bones in his left hand during the round-one win over North Melbourne.
But the 34-year-old has recovered well, and is on track to play next week against Essendon at Etihad Stadium.
The Eagles’ ruck division has struggled without Nic Naitanui (knee) and Scott Lycett (knee).