West Coast captain Shannon Hurn is adamant the Eagles haven’t given up on their premiership hopes, but admits the player group haven’t been working hard enough.
The Eagles’ top-four hopes hang by a thread following last week’s shock 19-point AFL loss to Collingwood.
West Coast will start as hot favourites to beat Fremantle on Sunday.
But their final three rounds loom as make-or-break time, with the Eagles taking on heavyweights GWS (away), Hawthorn (home) and Adelaide (away).
West Coast produced some scintillating displays on the way to last year’s grand final.
But they have been one of the most inconsistent teams of 2016, struggling to beat anyone currently sitting inside the top seven.
Hurn says his team need to improve in a number of key areas if they are to become a force come finals time.
But he scoffed at talk some players may have already given up the chase.
“I don’t think blokes have given up at all,” Hurn said on Monday.
“But I don’t think we’ve been working hard enough to get the results.
“Working hard enough is always pushing the limits and pushing the boundaries. Someone who does that well is Matt Priddis.
“The thing you don’t want to do is leave it up to others, or go, ‘It’s too hard, I’m not going to try today, I’ll come back the next day’.
“You can always contribute – tackling, blocks, giving handballs to your teammate. I think that’s what hard work is.”
Star ruckman Nic Naitanui (Achilles soreness) is on track to return against the Dockers after recovering from surgery on both of his feet.
Naitanui has missed the past six games, and his inclusion will provide West Coast’s midfield with some much-needed spark.
Hurn said the return of Naitanui isn’t the ultimate solution to the team’s problems.
“Yes, he can give us some ruck taps. We understand the dominance we can get from that,” Hurn said.
“But as a team, we haven’t played anywhere near good enough team footy.
“If we start playing some good football, I think we’re going to be ok, and we’re going to be able to do some damage.
“But certainly if we keep playing the way we play, it’s going to be a tough run home.”
Coach Adam Simpson may consider swinging the axe this week in a bid to get his team out of their funk.
Experienced forward Mark LeCras tallied just nine disposals in a goalless effort against Collingwood, while Simon Tunbridge and late inclusion Malcolm Karpany are others who could face the chop.
Midfielder Elliot Yeo is set to return from illness.