Lions coach wary of West Coast challenge - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lions coach wary of West Coast challenge

By Jim Morton 22/03/2010 07:48:08 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane coach Michael Voss has highlighted the battle between the AFL's two cutting edge ruck divisions as crucial to Sunday night's clash with West Coast.

Despite a significant lift in hype and expectation surrounding the Brendan Fevola-bolstered Lions, Voss is on guard for a "vicious" Eagles ambush at the Gabba.

And it's their star ruck duo of Dean Cox and Nic Natanui who has him most on edge.

"I think West Coast are very dangerous, a very dangerous side," he said on Monday.

"There's been a lot of talk about our team and the danger would be for them to fly under the radar and come up here and have a silent assault on us.

"The fact of the matter is they have a very good record against us and they're traditionally very good starters."

While the Lions have won three of the last four contests between the two sides, West Coast have prevailed in four of the last six matches at the Gabba.

Voss also hasn't forgotten the Eagles were one team which regularly hammered Brisbane during their premiership years at the start of the decade.

But he sees the league's premier ruckman Cox and Fiji-born excitement machine Natanui as the most clear and present dangers.

"It's going to be a very important duel in the outcome of the game," he said.

Like Cox and Natanui, Lions duo Mitch Clark and Matthew Leuenberger are among the new breed who also excel outside the stoppages.

Voss said his big men must be on guard for 19-year-old Natanui's second efforts at the ruck, as well as up forward.

"He's a cat," he said. "He lands and off he goes - that's a particular strength of his and what excites Eagles fans.

"Some of the most brilliant stuff that Nic Natanui does is at ground level, not just in the air.

"If he gets a run and jump at it, good luck, he'll jump over the stand.

"But it's his damage around the ball, he hunts the ball really well and Dean Cox can rack up numbers like a midfielder.

"Thankfully we've got a couple of ruckmen who can do likewise."

Voss admitted the Lions were targeting a top-four finish but he stressed each of his players needed to contribute and warned of the folly in expecting the recruitment of Fevola to transform Brisbane into genuine premiership contenders.

"I know it is easy to look at one particular person and say they will be the difference but in all my experience playing at this level I've never seen that to be the case," he said.

"I've seen it help but I've never seen it be the difference.

"If we take that method going into 2010 we will fail."

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