West Coast coach Adam Simpson insists his team have moved on from last year’s AFL grand final flop, claiming his players don’t fear the MCG.
The Eagles shaped as the fairytale story of 2015 after coming from ninth the previous year to reach the grand final.
But they received a reality check in the premiership decider when Hawthorn ran riot to post a 46-point win.
A host of football experts cited stage fright as the main reason behind West Coast’s capitulation on the day.
Some believe West Coast’s game plan also struggled to adapt to the shorter, fatter MCG.
Simpson believes the result had more to do with poor execution of the fundamentals, and said his players learned valuable lessons from the painful defeat.
“We reviewed it and reflected, and did some things with our players,” Simpson said.
“We didn’t just dismiss it.
“But we’ve got to move on. We’re not the first team that didn’t play at their best on grand final day. Hawthorn were way too good.”
West Coast will get the chance to gain a slice of revenge when they take on Hawthorn at the MCG in round two.
Simpson’s renowned ‘Weagles Web’ defensive system worked wonders on the long and narrow Domain Stadium.
But it’s effectiveness at the rounder MCG has been questioned.
Simpson is confident his team’s brand of football will stand up on any ground.
“We played Richmond on Friday night at the MCG off six days last year, and I thought we played that night really well,” Simpson said in reference to the team’s 20-point win in round 12.
“It was one of our best games of the year. No one was talking about the size of the ground that night.
“I don’t think we fear the ground, or the size of the ground. We need to play it a little bit differently, but it’s not like it’s impossible.”
West Coast rounded out their pre-season campaign with a 105-point trouncing of Essendon last week.
The Eagles will start as hot favourites against Brisbane in their season opener on March 27, but they face a tricky month after that with games against premiership hopefuls Hawthorn, Fremantle, Richmond, and Sydney.
West Coast have already been installed as an early premiership favourite alongside Hawthorn, but Simpson said his players need to be wary of complacency.
“I reckon we had 14 or 15 guys play their best season last year,” Simpson said.
“Can we get that again this year? It will be pretty hard.
“Can we consolidate and maintain a standard that can win us a lot of games? That’s our challenge.”