West Coast need to improve even further if they are to make a big impact at the business end of the AFL season, according to coach Adam Simpson.
The Eagles have an excellent chance to finish in the top four after producing a barnstorming 9-3 start to the season.
Their percentage of 153.5 is the best in the competition, and they’ll start as hot favourites to beat Melbourne in Darwin on Saturday night.
But Simpson isn’t getting carried away just yet, with the former Kangaroos skipper well aware of how quickly his team’s fortunes can change.
“I know we (started the round) second on the ladder, but there has to be eight teams in the same bracket at the moment,” Simpson said.
“We are two games off ninth, so I am not thinking we’ll just keep playing the way we are and we’ll be ok – no way.
“We have had periods where we have been really poor.
“We haven’t really achieved anything yet.
“We have got a really difficult back half of the year. There’s some really tough games and it starts this week. So we’re not looking too far ahead.”
West Coast face finals contenders Collingwood, Sydney, Hawthorn, Fremantle, and Adelaide (twice) over the final 10 games of the season.
Adapting to Darwin’s hot and humid conditions presents West Coast with a unique challenge this week, but Simpson is confident his charges will cope well.
The Demons are full of confidence following their upset win over Geelong at Simonds Stadium last round, but they’ll be without defender Heritier Lumumba (foot).
The return of key forward Jesse Hogan and defender Colin Garland is an important double boost for Melbourne, while the Eagles recalled Sam Butler at the expense of Matt Rosa.
Melbourne have played at Darwin’s TIO Stadium on five occasions since 2010, giving them a vital edge in the familiarity stakes.