Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says West Coast deserve to be the new premiership favourites as the odds of a western derby AFL grand final continue to shorten.
The Dockers booked a preliminary final berth on Saturday with a gritty nine-point win over Sydney in Perth.
West Coast secured their own spot a night earlier when they beat Hawthorn by 32 points at Domain Stadium.
Despite Fremantle finishing on top of the table after the home-and-away season, the Eagles are the outright premiership favourites after putting in a ruthless display against the Hawks.
“They were super impressive,” Lyon said of the Eagles.
“On the back of the quality they played, they are rightly premiership favourites.
“It’s great for WA footy to have two home preliminaries.
“It’s pretty exciting times, but I’m squarely focused on Fremantle and the potential upcoming opposition, and that’s the way it will stay.”
Lyon is confident defender Luke McPharlin will return for the preliminary final.
McPharlin was a late withdrawal against the Swans because of calf soreness.
It’s an issue he has battled for much of the past year, but Lyon says the extended break between games will serve McPharlin well.
Defender Cameron Sutcliffe is not expected to miss the preliminary final after re-injuring his right shoulder against the Swans, but being able to play out the match.
The Dockers were in the hottest of form during their 9-0 start to the season.
But they have struggled to find their mojo since, with Lyon admitting they still have some way to go before regaining their touch.
“We know what our best footy looks like,” Lyon said.
“I thought we were flippant (against the Swans), just flicking around.
“At one stage, we had 25 kicks, 60 handballs.
“It’s not what any AFL team should be about, especially against an elite pressure team like Sydney in their forward half trying to get the ball out.”
Brownlow medal favourite Nat Fyfe returned with a bang, tallying 32 disposals and eight clearances in his first match back from a leg injury.
Goalsneaks Michael Walters and Hayden Ballantyne (three goals each) also had big impacts.