West Coast midfielder Matt Priddis is adamant newly crowned All-Australian Andrew Gaff and fellow star Luke Shuey will be able to handle the tagging heat in Saturday night’s preliminary final against North Melbourne.
Gaff and Shuey have played key roles in West Coast’s resurgence this season – and opposition sides are taking notice.
They have received tight attention from rivals at various points throughout the season, and can expect more of the same when they confront North Melbourne at Domain Stadium on Saturday night.
Kangaroos tagger Ben Jacobs has shot to prominence during the finals series, snaring the scalps of Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin and Sydney ball magnet Dan Hannebery to help his side secure a preliminary final berth.
Sam Gibson has also been used as a lock-down player this year.
Although Priddis remains West Coast’s best clearance player, the damage Shuey and Gaff can cause on the burst means they are likely to be targeted by the Kangaroos.
Priddis has no doubt they can handle the heat.
“Those two boys are ready for it,” Priddis said.
“I think that’s where our improvement has come from this year – guys have been able to accept the attention they’re getting, and then still perform a role for the team.
“Simmo (coach Adam Simpson) is really big on making sure you’re reliable, not remarkable.
“They’ll have a role to play, and we’ll help them out as much as we can.”
Gaff’s hot form this season was rewarded with a maiden All-Australian call-up on Tuesday night.
The 23-year-old has averaged 29.7 disposals a game this season to go with a career-high 11 goals.
Shuey was crucial in the qualifying final win over Hawthorn, tallying 11 disposals in the second quarter to help set up victory.
Priddis (quad) and Chris Masten (hamstring) are considered certainties to return against the Roos this week.
Meanwhile, West Coast have re-signed star defender Jeremy McGovern for a further two years, tying him to the club until the end of 2018.