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Opposition Watch: Semi-Final

GIANTS Media  September 13, 2017 12:08 PM

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The final moments of the thrilling clash between the Eagles and Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.

Obviously with the extra time it takes a greater toll on the players and as a consequence we have a much greater emphasis on making sure they recover and are ready to go for this coming week.

After a heart-stopping finish to their Elimination Final and plenty of questions around ruckman Nic Naitanui, we take a look at all the news coming from the Eagles’ nest.

Coach Adam Simpson says West Coast's feet are firmly on the ground as they prepare for Saturday's semi-final clash with the GIANTS.

Simpson told 6PR that his team had to get back on task quickly, just as they did after their win against Adelaide in round 23 that catapulted them into finals by just 0.5 per cent.

“The emotion of the last two weeks has been extraordinary but they got back on task pretty quickly after the Adelaide game, albeit we had an extra week,” Simpson said on radio on Tuesday night.

“We really need to get to that process now and understand that as good as the game was, there is another game coming up and I’d be really disappointed if we didn’t put our best foot forward on the weekend.”

Simpson said it was all about recovery and preparation for the Eagles, who played 140 minutes of football when last week’s final against Port Adelaide went into overtime.

“We will have a look how they’ve pulled up and we have got training on Wednesday, so we will go from there but I wouldn’t be making too many changes I wouldn’t have thought.”

West Coast senior physiotherapist Paul Tucker told the club’s website that their players would be looking after their bodies ahead of their flight to Sydney on Thursday.

“Obviously with the extra time it takes a greater toll on the players and as a consequence we have a much greater emphasis on making sure they recover and are ready to go for this coming week,” Tucker revealed.

While several players are simply hoping to ease their way through the week, Nic Naitanui will not be letting up on the training track.

Tucker said the star ruckman was looking sharper and fitter with every session.

“At the moment, Nic has been joining in the majority of training with the players that haven’t been playing as well as on those sessions with the AFL squad,” he said.

“At the moment he’s been progressing really well. We’re still building into those unplanned things during the main training sessions.”

While a return for the ruck superstar would be remarkable, the Eagles have refused to rule out Naitanui’s shock inclusion for this week’s game.

Former Hawk Sam Mitchell said unpicking the GIANTS’ smooth-moving midfield would also be a priority.

“There has been a lot of talk about their running ability, but I think from a contested possession point of view they are really strong as well,” Mitchell said.

“We’ve got some challenges when it comes to the midfield (but) I think our midfield group has been able to improve in the second part of the year. Our last month or so we’ve been playing some pretty strong footy and been able to get the game played in our half a little bit more.

“We need to be really strong in that area. I think contested footy is so vital in finals; I think everyone understands that. That’s going to be the type of game that we’re going to get at the weekend and we need to make sure we come out on top in that midfield battle, because that’s probably where it’s going to be won or lost.”

The GIANTS take on West Coast in a Semi-Final at Spotless Stadium on Saturday night with the winner to progress to a Preliminary Final.

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