The 55th western derby between West Coast and Fremantle will have a different script to recent editions, according to Eagles defender Tom Barrass.
The Dockers are heavy favourites to claim their third-straight derby after breaking the Eagles’ 11-game winning streak late last year.
Barrass admitted the build-up to Saturday was unlike others he’d experienced, with West Coast (17th) and Freo (6th) at opposite ends of the ladder.
“With Fremantle going for a top-four finish and us traditionally not where we’d finish previously, it does have a different script to it, this one,” he said.
“But we’ll be taking the same approach.”
With the Dockers and Eagles missing key pillars at either end, a tussle between Barrass and Fremantle big man Rory Lobb looms as a blockbuster match-up.
Lobb kicked four goals in the Dockers’ 17-point win over the Western Bulldogs last week, while Barrass continued his superb second half of the season against Adelaide, holding Taylor Walker to just one major.
“I’ve played on Rory a number of times throughout my career, both at GWS and at Freo,” Barrass said.
“I like matching up on the key forwards.”
The 26-year-old has taken his game to a new level this season, shutting down some of the game’s biggest forwards – despite the ball coming his way more often.
“I think I’ve managed to improve this year, no doubt,” he said.
“The environment has asked a little bit more of me … It’s helped me drill down on what makes me a good player, what makes me make the correct decisions.”
That improvement has sparked calls for Barrass, who captained Claremont’s colts side to a premiership in his draft year (2013), to take the reins from current skipper Luke Shuey.
While acknowledging it would be “an honour to captain the footy club”, Barrass said he currently had no intention of wearing that hat next season.
“My role in the leadership group is to support those boys; Luke and Nic (Naitanui) and Gov (Jeremy McGovern), our more senior leaders and to learn off of them,” he said.