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18 Jul

Doubt over Eagle McGovern for grand final

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West Coast coach Adam Simpson admits he has issues ahead of Saturday’s AFL grand final against Collingwood.
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Simpson expects a secret Friday training session to clear his defensive linchpin Jeremy McGovern of a hip injury.

“We anticipate he will play, we just want to tick a few boxes,” Simpson told reporters on Friday ahead his club’s last training session before the premiership decider.

“Someone like Gov, he just gets up. It’s just making sure it’s up enough to play in a grand final.”

But Simpson is openly pondering his other big problem: how can he cut down a man he describes as Collingwood’s spiritual leader, ruckman Brodie Grundy?

“That is a good question,” Simpson said.

He reckoned the answer was not complicating things for his unheralded ruck tandem of Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy who are tasked with covering the injury-enforced absence of first-choice ruck Nic Naitanui.

“They did a pretty good job last week on (Melbourne ruck Max) Gawn,” Simpson said of his ruck duo.

“But this … it’s another level. Grundy has different strengths.

“Obviously it’s his ruck craft but it’s also around the ground … his work-rate and ability to connect is like a midfielder really.

“He’s a bit of a spiritual leader as well for the Pies.”

Simpson saw great similarities between his outfit, seeking a first premiership since 2006, and Nathan Buckley’s Collingwood, chasing a first flag since 2010.

Which is why he’s wary of Grundy being the game-breaker in a grand final between evenly-matched teams.

“We have got a lot of role-driven positions, I think Collingwood are exactly the same,” Simpson said.

“Both clubs have got talent but we rely heavily on each other.

“There’s no doubt a tremendous spirit at our club. I feel like we’re in a position now where there’s a lot of maturity in our group, there’s a pretty good connection.

“And I have got no doubt that Collingwood are in the same situation.”

West Coast enter the finale with consecutive wins this year against the Magpies.

They won by 16 points in a qualifying final in Perth three weeks ago and claimed their round 17 fixture in July by 35 points at the MCG.

However, Collingwood’s Buckley dismissed any relevance of those results entering the grand final.

“I would be pretty comfortable being in West Coast’s shoes having been able to best us those couple of times,” he told reporters on Friday.

“But at the same time we’re not uncomfortable, given that we have continued to explore our best and find our best.

“And we seem to have taken steps forward and have a bit of momentum around where we’re at at the right time of the year.”

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