North Melbourne are underdogs with a low growl, confident that their bite is sharp enough to put them into the AFL grand final.
Kangaroos coach Brad Scott is talking up his team’s prospects ahead of the daunting challenge of Saturday’s preliminary final against West Coast in Perth.
He said North are motivated by a quiet resolve to improve on last year, when they lost badly to Sydney at the same stage, and they are in the best physical shape they have been all season.
A few hours after Hawthorn midfielder Jordan Lewis admitted they were intimidated by the Domain Stadium crowd in their qualifying final loss to the Eagles, Scott confidently predicted his players would feed off that atmosphere.
Scott added Drew Petrie and Robbie Tarrant should also be fit to play.
He has admitted that 12 months ago, North subconsciously were maybe content just to make a preliminary final.
“This year we have a quiet confidence about what we’re doing,” he said.
“We really have an expectation, rather than a hope.
“While we’ve been happy with our wins the last couple of weeks, it certainly hasn’t been over the top.
“It’s certainly been with an eye to next week and an eye that we still have a couple of steps to take.”
The Kangaroos controversially rested a large group of players in round 23 and Scott said they are now seeing the benefits of that policy.
“We’ve already managed it,” he said of potential finals fatigue.
“We’re fit and fresh and we’re in the best shape we’ve been all year.”
When told of Lewis’ comments, Scott expressed surprise that anything would intimidate the Hawks.
“Our record interstate and certainly our philosophy is that we’ll feed off the crowd and that will certainly fuel us,” he said.
“Real competitors love that sort of environment, that hostile environment.
“They’ll be doing well to produce more noise than we experienced at the MCG in front of 90,000 (the elimination final win over Richmond), but I’m sure they’ll have a crack at it.”
Tarrant was a late withdrawal from last Saturday night’s semi-final win over Sydney with groin tightness, while Petrie suffered a corked knee during the match.
Scott said Tarrant would face a fitness test, but was upbeat about the pair’s availability.
There was the weekly question about whether Daniel Wells might make a shock finals return.
While Scott said they will give him every chance, he added Wells will need to be close to his best to force an unlikely comeback.
The North coach also revealed he had told in-form tagger Ben Jacobs to tone down his public comments.
“They (West Coast) are not stupid, they know what’s coming,” Scott when asked who Jacobs would play on this week.
“But I’ve spoken to Ben about taggers and the media.
“They probably should just go about their business and leave all the media stuff to the high-flying forwards.”