West Coast under pressure in AFL: Ratten - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

West Coast under pressure in AFL: Ratten

By Melissa Woods 14/09/2011 04:12:59 PM Comments (0)

Carlton coach Brett Ratten says the pressure's on West Coast, as they will carry a mental burden next year should they lose Saturday's sudden-death AFL semi-final.

Ratten knows all about pressure associated with finals defeats, having faced the threat of losing his job had he led the Blues to a third straight elimination final loss, against Essendon on Sunday.

Instead, they thrashed the Bombers by 62 points at the MCG, their first finals victory in a decade, which the Carlton coach said made his players feel liberated.

In contrast, Ratten said West Coast and their fans at Perth's Patersons Stadium would not be satisfied if the Eagles, who lost a qualifying final to Collingwood on Saturday, made the top four and then bowed out.

"Do they make the finals and lose in straight sets? Then they would carry that burden into the next year," he said.

"The expectation rises and, yeah, they might have to carry that weight."

But the Blues boss said a drop in pressure on his players should not be confused for decreased expectations.

"Just that little bit of a burden on your back - can you win a final or can you not win a final? - I think it's nice to remove that," said Ratten, whose team haven't lost interstate this season.

"We get to play with just that weight off our back. But our expectations and our KPIs (key performance indicators) don't change one bit.

"If anyone thought I was saying,'We just get to play and it doesn't really matter', it still matters 100 per cent."

Eagles coach John Worsfold shrugged off a question on whether his players would be feeling the heat.

"Our focus is for the players to play their natural game, to play the way they've played all year (because) that has brought them so much success," Worsfold said.

West Coast's winning chances were boosted by the clubs' contrasting injury reports.

Carlton tall Matthew Kreuzer's foot ailment remains a troubling mystery to the Blues, with both he and gun utility Bryce Gibbs (shoulder) almost certain to miss out.

But Eagles star ruckman Dean Cox, who had back spasms against the Magpies, and midfield dynamo Daniel Kerr, who missed the game with back soreness, have been declared certain starters.

Kreuzer's absence left Ratten pondering how to handle brilliant Eagles ruck duo Cox and Nic Naitanui.

"We've thrown up a few things with (Shaun) Hampson maybe coming into the mix," he said.

"Do we play (Bret) Thornton, Hampson and Setanta (O'hAilpin) forward which would be a different mix than what we've had, but that's something that could maybe combat the Naitanui-Cox combination."

Ruckman Hampson bagged six goals in the VFL on the weekend.

Ratten admitted West Coast were too good for the Blues in their 36-point loss when the teams last met in round 14.

Although he pointed out that full-back Michael Jamison suffered a knee injury during that game and Jeremy Laidler, Mitch Robinson and Nick Duigan were unavailable.

"We thought we were really off our game defensively," Ratten said.

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