Eagles the new flag favourites in AFL

West Coast coach Adam Simpson has urged his players to keep enjoying the ride as the Eagles bask in their new-found status as flag favourites.

Hawthorn’s bid for a premiership hat-trick is hanging by a thread after they suffered a 32-point loss to West Coast in Friday night’s qualifying final at Domain Stadium.

The Eagles will now get a week off before hosting a preliminary final, putting them in the box seat to reach their first grand final since 2006.

West Coast’s demolition of Hawthorn was even more impressive considering they were missing midfield stars Matt Priddis (quad) and Chris Masten (hamstring).

Both Masten and Priddis will return for the preliminary final, further bolstering an Eagles outfit that have overtaken the Hawks and Dockers as premiership favourites.

“It’s a little bit of the unknown for us,” Simpson said of his young side, which featured seven finals debutants against the Hawks.

“The journey we’re on at the moment – enjoying the ride is pretty much the theme we’re in.

“We’ve got a young list. We have a lot of guys going through first-time things;

“I’m in my first-time finals campaign, and first finals win, so it’s all new and exciting.

“Our planning was to improve. As the season has progressed we have really evolved into a pretty competitive club.

“But we haven’t put a ceiling on it.”

Simpson admitted a few of his players were “banged up” during the 14.12 (96) to 9.10 (64) win over Hawthorn.

Defender Will Schofield battled a tight hamstring before being subbed off late in the match, while star backman Jeremy McGovern’s left shoulder continues to cause him problems.

McGovern struggled to lift his left arm at times, but Simpson is backing the 23-year-old to play through the pain for the rest of the finals campaign.

“His shoulder is sore – AC joint. He’s struggling to get it above his head,” Simpson said.

“We have been trying to manage Gov all year. He’ll be fine.

“He would have played (next) week if we had needed him. But he’s going to enjoy the break.”

Simpson revealed Priddis first hurt his quad last week.

The Brownlow medallist was close to playing against the Hawks before being ruled out on match day.

His absence was barely felt as West Coast’s highly-drilled outfit dominated the Hawks, with the lead ballooning to 50 points by the final change.

The Hawks boasted 21 premiership stars, while West Coast had just three – Sam Butler, Sharrod Wellingham, and Xavier Ellis.

Simpson was proud of his team’s efforts, but he wants them to keep their eye on the ball as the club chases the ultimate prize.

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