Premiership captain Shannon Hurn says West Coast are well placed to defend their flag despite rival skippers tipping a pair of powerhouse Victorian clubs to play off in the grand final.
The annual AFL poll of club captains, released on Friday, saw Richmond most heavily backed to reach this season’s decider ahead of last year’s runners-up Collingwood.
The Eagles ranked third despite edging the Magpies by five points last September in one of the most epic grand finals ever played.
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The captains unanimously tipped each of last year’s four preliminary finalists – West Coast, Collingwood, Richmond and Melbourne – to make the top eight again.
“All you can do is as much as you can to prepare yourself to play, and I think we’ve been able to do that,” Hurn said.
“We’ve been able to get a reasonable bit of work into most of our players and done a bit of work on skills.
“But it’s mainly that understanding about how we want to go about the game and connecting with each other.
“We’re in a good position, but so is every other club.
“I’m pleased with what we’ve done, but you never know how the season is going to turn out.”
The Eagles have some concerns over key player availability ahead of their round one clash with Brisbane at the Gabba next Saturday.
Josh Kennedy (foot) faces a race against time to be fit and Jamie Cripps (toe) will miss the opening fortnight, as will suspended wingman Andrew Gaff.
But the Eagles are likely to regain Brad Sheppard after the reliable defender missed out on the grand final triumph with a torn hamstring.
Other than Nic Naitanui’s serious knee injury, which will sideline the until the first-choice ruckman until at least second half of the season, Hurn felt the Eagles were in good shape.
He said West Coast were prepared for rival clubs to target them.
“Teams obviously look at the previous year’s premiers and they want to test themselves,” Hurn said.
“That will definitely come and we’ll have to improve.
“What we did last year isn’t good enough, we’ve got to get better again.”
Hurn said he was enjoying the captaincy and feeling cherry ripe ahead of his 14t season at West Coast.
The 31-year-old signed a new contract extension last month that sees him through to the end of 2020.