West Coast coach Adam Simpson has heralded the ‘new frontier of footy’ after the opening round of the AFL, but his more immediate focus is on Sunday’s grand final rematch with Hawthorn.
The more attacking, high-scoring AFL in 2016 largely because of a more severe deliberate out of bounds rule and lower cap on interchange rotations was there for all to see at Domain Stadium on Sunday.
The Eagles beat the Brisbane Lions in a 41-goal shootout by 64 points with Josh Kennedy kicking eight goals, Matt Priddis racking up 43 possessions, Nic Naitanui having 22 touches, 46 hit outs and two goals, and Eric Mackenzie returning in outstanding form in defence.
Simpson isn’t quite sure what to make of the decidedly more free-flowing game to start the season, but it will take some getting used to.
“More and more teams now are going to take you on,” Simpson said.
“Your ability to defend that in the right way is the challenge and we want to do that as well at times. It’s exciting and it’s the new frontier of footy.”
Simpson and the Eagles will immediately turn their focus to trying to exact a measure of revenge on Hawthorn on Sunday at the MCG following last year’s grand final loss.
First, they will watch the Hawks play Geelong on Easter Monday.
“We’ll move on pretty quickly from this game. The players will recover and watch the Geelong game together in the afternoon and then move on,” Simpson said.
“We can’t overplay the game. This was a really important game for us because we knew Brisbane had been working really hard on some things and they challenged us. That was our focus and now we focus on Hawthorn.
“There will be a big build-up I’m assuming and that’s a good thing. It just adds to our experience and we learned a lot from last year but they are still a bloody good side.”