West Coast coach Adam Simpson says it’s too early to start dreaming of premiership success as his team prepares itself for a season-defining month.
The Eagles are now third favourites to win this year’s flag after their barnstorming 12-3 start to the season.
The situation is in stark contrast to less than four months ago, when West Coast’s finals hopes were written off by pundits following season-ending injuries to Eric Mackenzie and Mitch Brown.
With just seven games remaining, the Eagles are flying high in second spot.
But their hopes of staying there hinge on the next four weeks.
After Sunday’s clash with Sydney in Perth, the Eagles face off against Gold Coast (Metricon Stadium), Hawthorn (home) and Fremantle.
Simpson is well aware of the upcoming challenge, and he was in no mood to start talking about his team’s premiership chances.
“You’re overplaying our position at the moment. We’re not buying into that,” Simpson said on Saturday.
“Apologies, but I’m not even going to entertain the conversation.
“There were a fair few guys who jumped off us before the season started and now it’s probably too far the other way.
“So we’re in the middle – we’re balanced. We’re not particularly worried about perceptions outside our club.
“We have a block of games coming up where I think you’ll get a real indication of how serious we are.”
While West Coast’s bandwagon is quickly filling, plenty of pundits are jumping off the Swans following their 89-point capitulation to Hawthorn last week.
Simpson was surprised at how quickly Sydney have been written off, but said his team wouldn’t get lulled into complacency ahead of Sunday’s clash at Domain Stadium.
“They know what to do when their backs are against the wall,” Simpson said.
“I don’t think they’ll be reinventing the wheel from last week.
“I think they’ll just get back to what they do really well and that’s what we’re preparing for.”
West Coast have lost their past eight matches to Sydney, with their last win coming in 2007.
The Swans were dealt a triple blow this week when Kurt Tippett (hand), Craig Bird (calf), and Ted Richards were ruled out.
Mike Pyke returns to bolster the Sydney ruck, while West Coast named 19-year-old debutant Tom Barrass in place of injured defender Jeremy McGovern.
And should West Coast suffer any injuries before the match, forward Murray Newman will be called in for his AFL return.
Newman spent six months in jail last year after being found guilty of assault, but the 21-year-old was upgraded to the club’s senior list earlier this week after a series of solid WAFL displays.