West Coast coach Adam Simpson insists the lightning-quick deck at Etihad Stadium will hold no fears for his players in Saturday’s AFL clash with St Kilda.
The Eagles have lost five of their past seven matches at the Melbourne venue, including their round-one defeat to the free-wheeling Bulldogs.
Simpson is expecting another fast-paced affair against the youthful Saints, and he’s confident his players learned valuable lessons from their last trip there.
“We got exposed in round one, but I don’t think we’re afraid of playing at Etihad,” Simpson said.
“I think it suits us.
“The roof will be closed and it’s quick.
“So everything increases – the speed, inside 50s, turnover scores against.
“Everything is played at another level.”
West Coast have been bolstered by the return of midfielder Scott Selwood (ankle) and defender Jeremy McGovern (calf).
St Kilda were dealt a big blow when skipper Nick Riewoldt was ruled out with concussion, but the inclusion of Leigh Montagna (hamstring) will add vital experience to the fledgling group.
The Saints were tipped by many pundits to collect the wooden spoon this year.
But they have already posted wins over Gold Coast and the Bulldogs, and they fell just two points short against Essendon in round five.
Simpson has been impressed by St Kilda’s fight, and he’s warned his charges to expect a torrid affair.
“When you have a sense of spirit and unity like they have, it’s always going to be tough,” Simpson said.
“I’m really impressed with what they’re building towards.
“The bigger picture stuff they’re working on with their team defence and their intensity and pressure – I think it’s going to hold them in really good stead.
“The consistency of that probably is something they’re working on, just like we are. But they’re capable of playing a really good brand of football.
“You only have to look at the game against the Bulldogs (when they came from 55 points down).
“That was remarkable.”
West Coast are flying high in second spot on the table following four straight wins.
But a true test of their top-four potential will come between rounds 9-12, when they take on Geelong, North Melbourne, Essendon, and Richmond.