Battered Eagles ready for AFL's Cats - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Battered Eagles ready for AFL's Cats

By Justin Chadwick 21/09/2011 06:37:00 PM Comments (0)

West Coast coach John Worsfold says his battered and bruised side can't afford to worry about their aches and pains leading into Saturday's AFL preliminary final against Geelong at the MCG.

While the Cats are fresh and hungry following a week off, West Coast are nursing a host of sore bodies after hard-hitting finals against Collingwood and Carlton over the past fortnight.

Mark LeCras (ankle/knee), Eric Mackenzie (foot), Josh Kennedy (face) and Beau Waters (back) all pulled up sore from last week's semi-final win over Carlton, while ruckman Dean Cox and star midfielder Daniel Kerr have battled back issues in recent weeks.

In contrast, Geelong's only fitness concern surrounds veteran Joel Corey, who hasn't played since round 21 due to a groin injury.

The Cats are hot favourites to progress through to their fourth grand final in five years.

But Worsfold was adamant the Eagles' heavy physical load in recent weeks wouldn't leave them vulnerable against Geelong.

"No you can't worry about that at all because it is what it is," Worsfold said on Wednesday.

"We'll just prepare and be ready to go."

Worsfold took comfort from the Eagles' path to the 2006 premiership, when his team were forced to play every week in September - including an away preliminary final against Adelaide - after losing a home qualifying final to Sydney.

"I think it just means there's no barrier," Worsfold said.

"There's no right way to go around winning finals games.

"But it doesn't change our focus on our preparation this week.

"That was a totally different group and this is a new, vibrant young group that want to create their own destiny."

In the form of Cox and Nic Naitanui, West Coast boasts the best ruck combination in the league.

But Worsfold was quick to point out his team's ruck dominance failed to reap rewards two weeks ago against Collingwood, when the Eagles won the ruck hit-outs 50-29 but lost the clearances 53-31 in a 20-point qualifying final loss.

"So it's not all about them just winning taps, it's about how we use them and how they bring our other players into the game," Worsfold said.

"Obviously Daniel Kerr is at the elite level of stoppage play and it was great to have him out there for that game on the weekend (after he missed the loss to Collingwood).

"That doesn't guarantee us anything this week, but at least we go in with our number one midfield intact."

Worsfold left the door ajar for Matt Rosa to make a shock return against the Cats despite the midfielder missing the past six weeks with a knee injury.

"There won't be any element of risk if he gets through his fitness regime, so it's really just around whether someone who hasn't played for a number of weeks is right to come in," he said of Rosa, who trained with the main group on Wednesday.

"And that's around the importance to the side and whether we think his touch is good enough coming in first up, which I personally would be confident it would be."

Should either Rosa, Ash Smith or Brad Ebert earn a recall, the heat will be on midfielders Chris Masten and Patrick McGinnity to hold their spot.

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