News Day

It’s do or die at Optus stadium

Finals footy kicks off in Perth tonight when the Eagles take on Essendon in an elimination final at Optus stadium.

The Eagles have made several changes to the side which lost to Hawthorn two weeks ago with the likes of Nic Naitanui, Mark Hutchings and skipper Shannon Hurn all making their return from injury.

Midfielder Mark Hutchings returns to the side just 18 days since he tore his hamstring against Richmond.

ABC reporter and die-hard bomber fan Tom Wildie is unconvinced by this selection.

“I think that’s a massive gamble that could backfire immensely if he does another injury early in the game, they’re down a rotation early and they don’t have any other bonafide taggers like him.”

The match could break the 61,721 attendance record set last month by the Bledisloe Cup match. Photo: Sam Maclean.

But has Wildie backed the decision to play Shannon Hurn?

“They must be confident that at 32 years of age he’s fit to go because otherwise they wouldn’t have taken the punt, they’ve got other defenders not as good as him but are fully fit and would be more useful than a half fit Shannon Hurn.”

Wildie also highlighted contested football as the key to an Eagles win and says their recent loss to the Hawks may overshadow any advantage they’ve got from finals experience.

“They were hunted in their last two home and away games, especially against Hawthorn in Perth, a game they were expected to win.

If they win the contested football and get enough inside 50’s they’ll win the game quite comfortably.

It’s whether or not they can shake off any demons from the loss to Hawthorn here, I think that’ll probably play a little bit on the minds of some of the players that they got outmanoeuvred by Hawthorn on their own ground.”

It’s West Coast’s game to lose according to the ABC’s Tom Wildie.

Despite this Wildie has backed the Eagles to win by four goals and for them to lead the game from start to finish.

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