West Coast players will become Sydney Swans supporters on Saturday as the race for eighth spot reaches a dramatic climax over the weekend.
Collingwood’s 65-point loss to Hawthorn on Friday night means the battle for the last remaining spot in the finals is down to three teams – West Coast, Richmond and Adelaide.
Richmond can lock down eighth spot if they can pull off an upset win over Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Saturday – a scenario West Coast players don’t want to happen.
If the Tigers lose, then West Coast will be in the box seat given their superior percentage to Adelaide’s (114.7 compared to 110.2).
The Eagles are warm favourites to beat Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Sunday, but a small win may not be enough to stay above the Crows, who play lowly St Kilda in Adelaide later that day.
Despite the myriad of scenarios that can unfold, Eagles coach Adam Simpson is only focused on one thing – beating Gold Coast.
“I haven’t thought about (percentage) once,” Simpson said.
“We just want to win, and we’ll let the rest of it take care of itself. And I’m honest when I say that.
“Gold Coast really challenged us over here last time we played. We won by three points at the death.
“They’ll be really keen to finish off their season as well as they possibly can. We are under no illusion as to how important the game is.”
West Coast have been bolstered by the return of star trio Nic Naitanui, Scott Selwood and Elliot Yeo, but Mitch Brown (foot), Mark Hutchings (hamstring) and Dean Cox (soreness) couldn’t be considered.
Gold Coast recalled Matthew Warnock and Greg Broughton in place of Trent McKenzie (hamstring) and Timmy Sumner (axed).
The Suns were being talked up as a possible top-four fancy after they made a 7-2 start to the year.
But the wobbles set in once their draw got tough, and the wheels fell off completely once star midfielder Gary Ablett suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in round 16.
The Suns have lost five of their six games since Ablett went down, with their only win during that period coming against lowly St Kilda.
Code-hopper Karmichael Hunt won’t appear for the Suns again after announcing his retirement from the AFL earlier this week.
Hunt, who suffered a broken toe, staph infection, concussion and hamstring problems this season, has joined rugby union side Queensland Reds in the hope of one day playing for the Wallabies.