West Coast coach Adam Simpson says his team can’t afford to merely copy Hawthorn next season if they are to break their 10-year flag drought.
The Hawks are the AFL’s trendsetters after romping to their third straight flag in October.
West Coast were cut to shreds by Hawthorn in the grand final, with a host of Eagles players suffering stage fright in the 46-point loss.
The Hawks have become renowned for their high possession and skillful kicking game in recent seasons.
But while other sides are trying to copy Hawthorn’s blueprint for success, Simpson wants to do things his own way.
“Look, Hawthorn are Hawthorn. They’re a very good side. But I think if you keep trying to copy clubs, you’ll never go past them,” Simpson said on Monday.
“There’s no doubt we’ve brought in a lot of things that Hawthorn did when I got the job.
“But I think we need to evolve into our own side.
“We need to play our own way and back our own system.”
West Coast have been bolstered by the addition of former Sydney speedster Lewis Jetta and ex-Lions midfielder Jack Redden.
But perhaps their most important off-season acquisition is respected football analyst John Wardrop, who became known for his role as opposition analyst during Hawthorn’s four recent flags.
Simpson also knows Hawthorn intimately after spending four seasons there as an assistant coach between 2010-13.
The former North Melbourne skipper has quickly emerged as one of the best tactical coaches in his own right after developing the famed ‘Weagles Web’ last season.
Simpson’s efforts were rewarded with a three-year contract extension last week, tying him to the club until the end of 2019.
West Coast’s senior players started pre-season training on Monday, with Chris Masten winning the 2km time trial, and Andrew Gaff finishing second.
Ruckman Nic Naitanui, Jack Darling, and Will Schofield didn’t take part in the time trial, but Simpson said the trio are fine and were just completing their modified training schedule.
The addition of Jetta shapes as particularly exciting for the Eagles, and Simpson hopes he can get the best out of the 26-year-old speedster.
“We consider him an A-grade talent,” Simpson said.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing how he responds to a slightly different way of playing footy.
“A new environment, new coaching group and hopefully he reproduce some of his best form he had in Sydney.”