Eagles bracing for grand final nerves

It’s all light and fluffy at the moment, but West Coast coach Adam Simpson wants his players to embrace the nerves once the pressure of grand final week sets in.

Eagles players looked relaxed and jovial on Tuesday as they enjoyed a light kick-around in front of about 1,500 fans at Domain Stadium.

The 25-minute session featured some fun kicking games and shots on goal, before the players broke off to sign autographs.

It followed on from Monday’s light session in front of about 8,000 fans.

West Coast’s preparations will get more serious on Wednesday when they hold their main training session of the week behind closed doors.

The Eagles haven’t played in a grand final since 2006, while seven players who will take to the field this week hadn’t even featured in a final before this year.

In contrast, Hawthorn are aiming to snare their third straight premiership.

Simpson, a two-time premiership winner during his playing career at North Melbourne, knows the nerves will build up as the week wears on.

But he’s told his players not to worry too much about it.

“I’m not sure you can stop it,” Simpson said.

“You can pretend to just treat it like any other week or game. But we all know reality.

“We’ve just got to embrace what the week is and try to be as relaxed as we can, knowing it’s a massive game.

“As I said to the boys last week, there’s no point playing if you don’t want to play in these games.”

Before West Coast’s qualifying final win over Hawthorn two weeks ago, Simpson’s address to the group helped calm any jitters.

“He just spoke about how his young daughter was playing in a netball final and was also feeling nervous,” defender Xavier Ellis said

“So it showed how natural nerves are.”

Hawthorn’s precise kicking skills have played a key role in their success over the past eight years.

But Simpson said their pressure off the ball was also elite.

“It would be silly of me to just talk about what they can do with the ball,” Simpson told Perth radio station 6PR.

“If you look back at the grand final last year, they were ruthless with their attack and their hardness.

“How they defend and what they do around the contest is what really gets them going, and that’s when they play their absolute best.”

West Coast midfielder Matt Priddis missed out on winning back-to-back Brownlow medals when he was pipped by Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe on Monday night.

But the 30-year-old Eagle only has one thing on his mind right now.

“From the age of seven, all I’ve ever wanted to do is play in a grand final and win one,” Priddis said.

“So I’ve got the opportunity this Saturday and can’t wait.”

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