When West Coast forward Mark LeCras delivered a crunching bump last week, it gave one player a massive headache, and cured the head throb of another.
LeCras will miss Sunday’s top-of-the-table derby against Fremantle after copping a one-match ban for his head-high bump on James Frawley which left the Hawthorn defender dazed and hurt.
In contrast, Dockers defender Cameron Sutcliffe felt a massive weight lift from his shoulders.
LeCras booted five goals opposed to Sutcliffe during this year’s first western derby.
Sutcliffe rates LeCras as his hardest opponent, and he’s thanking his lucky stars that he has avoided a re-match this weekend.
“He’s the only player who’s really kicked a big bag on me,” Sutcliffe told Perth radio station 6PR.
“He was a bit of a handful last time we played them.”
West Coast will enter the crunch derby missing a host of their best players.
Scott Selwood (ankle), Nic Naitanui (personal leave), Jeremy McGovern (hamstring), and LeCras are all unavailable.
In contrast, Fremantle have been boosted by the return of Brownlow Medal favourite Nat Fyfe, while defender Michael Johnson is set to play his first match since tearing his hamstring in round 10.
Dockers trio Matthew Pavlich (Achilles tendon), David Mundy (ankle), and Luke McPharlin (corked calf) are set to be assessed after Friday’s training session to determine their availability.
Eagles defender Xavier Ellis said his team were eager to make up for their flop against Fremantle in round three.
In that match, Fremantle booted the first 11 goals to set up the comprehensive win.
“It’s like you’re playing against a reserves WAFL team with a scoreline like that,” Ellis said.
“On that day we were really poor early, and Fremantle taught us a lesson and embarrassed us a little bit.”
Despite Fremantle being 10 points clear on top of the table, Hawthorn remain the hot premiership favourites.
The Dockers have struggled to regain their best form over the past two months, but Sutcliffe said the team wasn’t bothered by people jumping off their bandwagon.
“We’re more than happy to fly under the radar a little bit and continue to string games together,” Sutcliffe said.
“The outside criticism doesn’t really matter.”
West Coast are just two points ahead of Hawthorn, meaning they may need to win their remaining four games if they are to retain second spot.