No Nic Nat as Eagles look to conquer GWS

 

They were able to cop the criticism on their chin but can West Coast handle the love?

That's the unique challenge that confronts the Eagles this week as they prepare for Saturday night's semi-final against Greater Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium.

The Eagles bore the brunt of widespread criticism earlier this season for their inconsistent form.

But they have received nothing but praise over the past fortnight after two breathtaking wins.

West Coast's 29-point win over Adelaide in the final round was just enough to catapult the Eagles into eighth spot on percentage.

And their extra-time triumph over Port Adelaide in last week's elimination final will go down as one of the most exciting finishes in AFL history, with Luke Shuey kicking the winning goal after the final siren in extra-time.

Eagles coach Adam Simpson praised his team's leaders for standing tall in recent weeks, saying the resilience shown by the group is something that will carry forward into next season.

But he said dealing with the recent praise could provide a unique challenge for the squad this week.

"We probably had four or five weeks of heavy criticism, and now we've had a couple of weeks the other way," Simpson said.

"So trying to get the inner sanctum of the club in the right space where we're predictable with our processes -- the boring the stuff -- that's been our challenge.

"It's not a bad thing that we're getting on a plane today.

"It was a big game last week. It was an emotional game. It might be one of the greatest games I've been involved in.

"But we've still got a job to do."

Simpson decided against taking the gamble on fit-again Nic Naitanui this week.

The ruckman has been training strongly but he will be put on ice for at least another week.

Simpson did make one change to his winning team, recalling premiership midfielder Sharrod Wellingham at the expense of Luke Partington.

The Giants recalled veteran Steve Johnson and first-year forward Tim Taranto to replace Jeremy Cameron (hamstring) and Shane Mumford (foot).

Mumford's absence was set to pave the way for former Cats player Dawson Simpson to return to the side.

But Simpson was overlooked, leaving Rory Lobb to shoulder the bulk of the ruck work.

West Coast's makeshift ruck duo of Nathan Vardy and Drew Petrie excelled in last week's win over the Power, with the pair nullifying the influence of All-Australian Paddy Ryder.

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