Mental scarring. Psychological hurdle. MCG Hoodoo.
Whatever you want to call it, West Coast know they’ve got some worrying baggage they need to address if they’re going to challenge Hawthorn for this year’s AFL flag.
The ghosts of last year’s grand final resurfaced for West Coast on Sunday when they copped a 46-point loss to Hawthorn at the MCG.
As was the case in the premiership decider, West Coast were unable to cope with Hawthorn’s intense pressure and slick ball movement.
After the match, Eagles coach Adam Simpson admitted there could be some mental scarring when his team next face Hawthorn – a round-22 clash in Perth.
Defender Jeremy McGovern said his side had probably suffered a bit of psychological damage by the nature of their past two losses to Hawthorn at the MCG.
But he said the team had learned valuable lessons out of both capitulations, and the dimensions of the ground itself wasn’t a worrying factor.
“Obviously the last two times we’ve played the Hawks there, we haven’t played as well as we have all year,” McGovern said.
“But we played Richmond there last year, and we played pretty similar to how we want to play.
“I don’t think it’s the ground or anything like that. It might be the opponent.”
If West Coast are to win the flag, odds are they’ll need to overcome Hawthorn at some point.
But their immediate focus has shifted to toppling a struggling Dockers outfit in Saturday night’s western derby at Domain Stadium.
Fremantle’s premiership hopes are already in the spotlight after opening their season with disappointing losses to the Bulldogs and Gold Coast.
Dockers coach Ross Lyon admits the team’s new centre-square tactics have failed dismally, with the side expected to revert to something more in line to what helped them win last year’s minor premiership.
With both West Coast and Fremantle on the rebound, Saturday’s derby shapes as an intriguing affair.
McGovern said his side were desperate to bounce back from their flop against Hawthorn.
“Obviously we lost, but we could sort of swallow it a bit better if we lost playing the way we want to play,” McGovern said.
The Eagles are set to be bolstered by the return of Chris Masten, who tallied 28 disposals and six tackles in the WAFL last week in his first match back from an ankle injury.