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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

AFL finals 2018: Redemption drives West Coast Eagles defender Liam Duggan

West Coast defender Liam Duggan says the lessons he learnt during last year’s finals series will play a key role in keeping him calm throughout the build-up to next Saturday night’s qualifying final against Collingwood at Optus Stadium.
Duggan struggled during his first finals series last year.
He averaged 17 disposals from his 18 home and away games.
But that fell to just 10 touches in each of the Eagles’ finals against Port Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney.
The 21-year-old said he fell into the trap of treating the finals like a big occasion instead of sticking to the same routines which had made him successful during the regular season.
“I learnt a little bit about treating it a bit more like normal week,” Duggan said.
“I got a little bit amped up for it which isn’t normal for me.
“It’s a good lesson about not doing things that I wouldn’t normally do. I’ll definitely be more prepared for it this time.
“The GWS final was disappointing for the team, but I didn’t play my role as well as I would have liked.
“You feel the good weather come around and you can taste September, but you’ve got to control that. I have to treat the finals like I would any game and that’s what I’ve learnt from last year.”
Duggan said the build up to this year’s finals had been dramatically different to last year and that had aided the team’s preparation.
Last year, West Coast didn’t know they were playing finals until after the last game.
This year, they have been guaranteed of playing finals for several weeks and spent the latter part of the season competing for a top-two finish.
West Coast will select a team with significantly more finals experience than Collingwood.
The Magpies haven’t played finals since 2013 and experienced players such as Taylor Adams, Jeremy Howe and Adam Treloar are yet to play on the September stage.
But the Eagles will have also multiple finals debutants.
The team that beat Brisbane on Sunday included five who are yet to play finals — Willie Rioli, Tom Cole, Liam Ryan, Daniel Venables and Oscar Allen. Scott Lycett lost his only final against the Western Bulldogs in 2016.
But West Coast coach Adam Simpson said he had no fears about exposing the younger players to the finals intensity.
“You just throw them in,” Simpson said.
“They’ve played in some big games this year, our kids.
“Can you compare it to finals?
“We’ve had more people at our home games than anyone in the comp. We’re averaging 50,000 people. I’m sure there’s another step up but the only way to get through that is to play them.”