West Coast coach Adam Simpson says his team will get exposed if they start to rely on star forward Josh Kennedy too much.
Kennedy is on track to claim back-to-back Coleman medals following his seven-goal haul against Fremantle on Sunday.
With three rounds remaining, Kennedy has 67 goals to his name – six ahead of Sydney’s Lance Franklin and Gold Coast’s Tom Lynch.
Kennedy was near unstoppable against the Dockers, with his strong contested marking and accurate goalkicking proving crucial in West Coast’s 46-point win.
But Simpson said it would actually harm the team if he developed tactics to isolate Kennedy more often.
“I went through this with Buddy at Hawthorn,” Simpson told Perth radio station 6PR.
“I know Kennedy’s winning the Coleman and people probably think … that if he doesn’t score, we won’t win.
“But we can’t rely on JK to kick seven for us to perform.
“And for us to try to isolate him – it’s almost impossible if you try to do that.
“Defenders now are just so smart at dropping off non dangerous players.
“If we have a pattern where we try to expose that, we’ll get exposed really quick.
“We need Jack Darling, Josh Hill, Mark LeCras, and Jamie Cripps all to contribute if we’re going to kick a winning score.”
Sixth-placed West Coast (13-6) face an uphill battle to snare a top-four berth.
West Coast take on premiership fancies GWS (away), Hawthorn (home), and Adelaide (away) in a brutal run home.
The Eagles have been in patchy form for most of the season.
But last week’s return of star ruckman Nic Naitanui has sparked hope West Coast can regain their mojo before the finals.
Naitanui was solid against the Dockers last week, and he’ll be given more game time when he comes up against GWS ruckman Shane Mumford at Spotless Stadium on Saturday.
“His Achilles pulled up really well,” Simpson said.
“Typical soreness you get when you haven’t played for a while, but nothing that will stop him from playing this week, and playing some more minutes.”