West Coast midfielder Andrew Gaff denies his team are mentally scarred by their MCG flops, saying they simply haven’t played well enough whenever they’ve travelled to the venue.
The Eagles have now lost 18 of their past 23 matches at the MCG, with Sunday’s 51-point loss to Hawthorn again raising questions about West Coast’s ability to play well at the venue.
Gaff insists the venue itself isn’t the issue, despite it being 19m wider and 15m shorter than West Coast’s home ground Domain Stadium.
“It’s nothing to do with the ground. It’s just two poor performances against Richmond and Hawthorn (this season). It’s as simple as that,” Gaff said on Monday.
“Our inability to contest around the ball has been the main issue.
“Both of those weeks it hasn’t been the width of the ground (that has bothered us). We need to address everything pretty quickly, and move on to next week.
“Our good footy’s as good as anyone’s in the comp.
“But our poor footy like on the weekend and against Richmond (in round three) makes us a pretty average team.”
West Coast will be desperate to rebound in Saturday night’s western derby against arch rivals Fremantle.
Both sides enter the clash with 3-2 records, but most of the heat will be on West Coast to produce the goods.
The Eagles are set to be boosted by the return of Brownlow medallist Sam Mitchell (ankle), while the Dockers were dealt a huge blow when star midfielder Stephen Hill was ruled out for up to four weeks with a hamstring injury.
“No doubt it’s handy,” Gaff said of Hill’s absence for the derby.
“He’s a quality player and dangerous when he gets the ball.
“So with him out it’s a positive (for us).
“But they’ve got quite a few guys – Mundy, Fyfe, Neale – who are playing good footy, and hitting the scoreboard too.
“So there’s plenty of work for us as a midfield group to negate those guys and also get on top.”