Elliot Yeo says playing with a premiership target on their backs has been a significant challenge for West Coast this season.
The Eagles are sixth on the ladder with a 6-3 record but are yet to produce the style of football which led them to last year’s premiership.
West Coast struggled to break free of Melbourne on Friday night. They finally did so in a final-quarter onslaught.
Yeo said it was obvious how desperate opposition clubs were to beat the reigning premiers.
“It was always going to be a tough year,” Yeo said.
“Most teams always put their best foot forward against us now, being the reigning premiers. It’s quite difficult.
“Looking back on it last year, we were the same for Richmond. It’s basically, whenever you play the reigning premiers, it’s almost a like a grand final for that team.
“We’re trying to get around that. We’re trying to play our best football at the same time.
“We’ve got some things cut out for us.
“Last year we are going from the hunters and now we’re the hunted. It’s certainly one of those things we’ve got to take in our stride.”
Adelaide are the next team lining up to tackle the Eagles.
The Crows will host West Coast at Adelaide Oval on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles will be without experienced defender Lewis Jetta after he yesterday accepted a one-match suspension for engaging in rough conduct towards Melbourne’s Tim Smith.
Young forward Daniel Venables is unlikely to play after being concussed during the second quarter.
But Yeo backed the team’s depth to be able to cover for them on Saturday.
Liam Ryan has been nominated for the mark of the week after his spectacular grab over Demon ruckman Max Gawn.
Ryan, St Kilda’s Daniel McKenzie and Geelong’s Tom Stewart were the round nine nominations.
Yeo said Ryan’s mark inspired everyone. “That was pretty epic,” he said.