West Coast coach Adam Simpson says he won’t demand anything special from Lewis Jetta when the premiership midfielder makes his AFL return in Friday night’s blockbuster with Hawthorn at Domain Stadium.
Jetta’s arrival at West Coast at the end of last season was hailed by some as being the final piece of the puzzle in the club’s premiership bid.
But the former Swan has stagnated instead of sizzling in 2016.
Jetta has already been axed from the senior side three times this year.
But, two strong hitouts in the WAFL over the past fortnight – combined with the suspension of Simon Tunbridge – have opened the door for Jetta to return against the Hawks.
Jetta’s inclusion looms as a potential X-factor for West Coast in their bid to topple the Hawks – and to cause some damage during finals time.
The 27-year-old scorched Hawthorn with his pace in the Swans’ 2012 grand final win.
But, Simpson has been careful not to put too much pressure on Jetta heading into Friday’s match.
“We’re probably not looking for anything special,” Simpson said on Thursday.
“We just want him to play to his strengths. That’s the message.
“If we can get the ball in his hands, and he can win his own ball at the same time and play the way we want him to play, he’ll have a good influence on the game.”
The Eagles were dealt a blow on Thursday when key defender Tom Barrass was ruled out because of shin soreness.
He has been replaced by Jackson Nelson, while ruckman Scott Lycett (corked leg) and Sharrod Wellingham (knee) have been named despite injury concerns.
Hawthorn decided against making any changes to the team who beat North Melbourne last week, while the sixth-placed Eagles kept their top-four hopes alive with a thrilling one-point win over GWS.
Simpson expects Friday night’s match to be played at a finals-like intensity.
But, he dismissed suggestions his team’s premiership hopes would be effectively extinguished if they lost to Hawthorn.
“They’re not finals,” Simpson said of the next two games against Hawthorn and Adelaide.
“We might win the next two and still not get past where we are on the ladder, so it’s not about that.”
With Hawthorn’s inferior percentage, they could drop to as low as fourth if they lose to West Coast, meaning the stakes for their clash could hardly be bigger.
Hawthorn hold the psychological edge after thumping West Coast by 46 points in last year’s grand final.
The Hawks handed the Eagles another 46-point thumping when they met in round two at the MCG.
But West Coast are a far-different prospect on home turf, and they showcased that strength in last year’s qualifying final when they beat Hawthorn by 32 points.