Facing GWS used to be a stroll in the park for West Coast, but Eagles coach Adam Simpson says it has now turned into a “dangerous” assignment.
In the three meetings between the two AFL sides, West Coast have posted crushing wins of 81, 100, and 111 points to take a stranglehold on the rivalry.
Eagles forward Josh Kennedy booted 11 goals in last year’s 188-77 hiding in Perth, leaving GWS shell-shocked.
But despite the lop-sided history, Saturday night’s re-match at Domain Stadium looms as an intriguing affair.
GWS sit in second spot on the table with a 3-1 record, while the inconsistent Eagles are 2-2 and nursing a worrying injury toll.
Defenders Eric Mackenzie and Mitch Brown are out for the season, while star forward Jack Darling (foot) is still weeks away from returning.
Many pundits tipped Gold Coast to reach the finals this year, but it seems as though GWS have leapfrogged the Suns in the battle between the two expansion franchises.
“I think we are just starting to see the signs of what’s coming this year with GWS,” Simpson told Perth radio station 6PR.
“They’re a different team than we faced last year.
“I don’t think it will be the same result as we had last year. I hope it is though.
“They’re a dangerous side to play. They’re hard running, they’re young and enthusiastic, and they don’t really rely on one player. They’re pretty balanced with everything they do.”
Eagles midfielder Luke Shuey is expected to play despite rolling his ankle in last week’s 53-point win over Brisbane.
A big positive to come out of that victory was the form of forward Fraser McInnes, who tallied 15 possessions, eight marks, and a goal in his AFL debut.
McInnes had spent four years on West Coast’s list before being given his chance, and Simpson said the 21-year-old’s inclusion had been a massive morale boost after the team’s dismal defeat to Fremantle in round three.
“To be honest, the players were a little bit off earlier in the week,” Simpson said.
“And it wasn’t until we announced that Fraser was going to play his first game that we really saw a change in the players’ behaviour.”