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 Cost 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 sizzled in 2016.
Jetta has already been axed from the senior side on three separate occasions this year.
But two strong hit-outs in the WAFL over the past fortnight – combined with the suspension of Simon Tunbridge – has 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 night’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.
“He does have attributes that are different to some. But the consistency we’re looking for is more based around his attitude and effort, which he’s done pretty well to this point at a lower level.
“Now it’s just doing it at a higher level, which we know he’s done in the past.
“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 sixth-placed Eagles kept their top-four hopes alive with a thrilling one-point win over GWS last week.
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 lose 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.”
Hawthorn’s inferior percentage means they could drop to as low as fourth if they lose to West Coast.
It means the stakes for Friday night’s 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 at the MCG in round two.
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.
Simpson rates Hawthorn as the benchmark team in the competition, and said getting enough supply to his forwards would be crucial in West Coast’s hopes of victory.