Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Sydney ruckman Shane Mumford feels West Coast won't be overly weakened by the loss of suspended pair Luke Shuey and Quinten Lynch.
Shuey and Lynch were given two-week and one-week bans respectively by the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night, sidelining them from the Eagles' top-of-the-table clash with the Swans in Perth on Sunday.
Throw in the fact defender Beau Waters, a late withdrawal from the side's last-start win over North Melbourne, will miss at least a month following knee surgery and the Eagles look a poorer side on paper.
But Mumford isn't expecting a drop off.
"They're big outs but, having said that, they've got guys that have been playing in their seconds that will step up," Mumford said on Wednesday.
"They've been showing that all year with blokes coming in to fill roles.
"There's going to be two or three guys that will step up for them. We still expect a really tough challenge.
"It's a massive game for us. With the logjam going on at the top of the ladder, it's pretty much a must win to stay right up and amongst it."
The Eagles have made do without injured quartet Josh Kennedy, Andrew Embley, Mark LeCras and Mark Nicoski - players that would ordinarily demand selection but, this season, have been limited to a combined tally of seven games.
While Eagles coach John Worsfold has earned plaudits for nullifying their absence, one suspects he'd be powerless if Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui joined the club's well-stocked injury list.
Cox has been a force in every fixture, while Naitanui has missed two games this year - the second being the Eagles' most sizeable loss for the season, a 61-point hammering dished out by Essendon in round seven.
Mumford isn't alone in rating the West Coast duo the best ruck combination in the league.
"You got two different guys - one can basically jump over the top of you and the other one reads the play so well and moves so well around the ground," he said.
The 26-year-old has played five games since returning from a back infection that derailed his 2012 campaign, and is keen to test himself.
"The body's back to normal and fitness is pretty much back as well ... you always want to play against the best and see where you're at."
Check out FREE Full Race results
for nine separate countries.