Ruck battle key in GWS-Eagles AFL clash

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Ruck battle key in GWS-Eagles AFL clash

A fascinating ruck duel will go a long way to deciding whether Greater Western Sydney defeat West Coast and remain in the AFL’s top four.

GWS have already qualified for their maiden finals campaign but remain part of a tight race for a double chance in September.

The Giants and Geelong each slid one spot down the ladder following round 21, despite both banking victories.

The expansion franchise next face the sixth-placed Eagles on Saturday at home.

The match pits man mountain Shane Mumford up against excitement machine Nic Naitanui – two of the league’s best ruckmen.

“It’s an intriguing battle … Mumford is going to have his strengths and Naitanui is going to have his,” GWS coach Leon Cameron said on Wednesday.

“There’s no doubt he (Naitanui) is a super ruckman … he came back into the team (last weekend) and had a massive impact.

“We’re going to have our work cut out for us at centre bounces and stoppages. We feel as though we’re in pretty good shape there – they are as well.

“Whoever wins that battle probably wins the game, I suppose – their mids, our mids and their ruck, our ruck.”

Cameron is confident classy on-baller Dylan Shiel will be part of the contest.

Shiel missed the Giants’ eight-point win over Gold Coast last Saturday because of a groin injury.

The 23-year-old has played every other game this season for GWS.

“He has to get through training today and pull up really well tomorrow to get the nod to play,” Cameron said.

“But we’re confident that is going to happen … we think we’re on top of it.”

However, Cameron will understandably take a conservative approach with Shiel.

“There’s no doubt players are going to have knocks and bruises. Some will go in at 90 per cent because of the wear and tear,” he said.

“But when you’re talking about groins … you’ve got to be really careful.

“So if he’s not right, he won’t play.

“We’ve got to make sure he doesn’t get to round 23 and conks out.”

Cameron was wary of the Eagles’ forward line, especially Josh Kennedy coming off a seven-goal haul.

Regarding the top-four logjam, Cameron noted “we’ve just got to win”.

“Our percentage is irrelevant if we don’t win. The Eagles would be saying the same thing,” he said.

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