Eagles AFL midfield needs ‘more dominance’
Posted on 04/25/20 7:43 PM
West Coast AFL coach Adam Simpson wants his midfield to power home the dominance of his ruckmen.West Coast coach Adam Simpson finally has his two blue-chip ruck options up and going – now he wants to cash in on the benefits.
Ruck duo Nic Naitanui (knee) and Scott Lycett (shoulder) managed just one match between them last season because of injuries.
But the pair have played crucial roles during 2018’s opening two rounds, combining to give the Eagles a 120-30 advantage in the hit-outs in games against Sydney and the Western Bulldogs.
However, this ruck dominance is yet to lead to a clear midfield advantage, with West Coast losing the clearance battle 80-69 across the two games.
Naitanui and Lycett are expected to dominate the hit-outs again on Sunday when they take on Geelong at Optus Stadium.
The Cats will enter the match with just one recognised ruckman – Rhys Stanley.
It means Geelong’s star-studded midfield are likely to put their focus into sharking the ruck taps from Naitanui and Lycett.
Simpson has been happy with his ruck duo’s form, but he wants his midfield to power home the advantage.
“That’s something we’ve got to put a lot of focus on,” Simpson said.
“We’ve got two ruckmen who are winning their fair share of hit-outs. The connection is not where we want it to be at the moment.
“It’s the first time those two have played together for a long time. And getting used to that connectivity is something we’re working through with our mids.
“We’re definitely not maximising that at the moment, so that’s one of our goals and challenges this week with the quality we’re going against. It’s a good problem to have, I suppose.”
West Coast were impressive in last week’s 51-point win over the Bulldogs.
But Simpson is well aware of Geelong’s firepower of Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield posing the biggest threats.
The star trio tallied a combined 95 disposals to go with four goals in Monday’s one-point loss to Hawthorn.
Both teams enter Sunday’s match unchanged, with Simpson resisting the temptation to recall tagger Mark Hutchings.
Elliot Yeo appears set for a run-with role and Dangerfield is his most likely target.