Double blow: Eagles lose two guns for crunch Tassie clash
WEST Coast have suffered a major double blow, with Josh Kennedy and Luke Shuey ruled out of the crucial AFL clash with North Melbourne.
The Eagles will go a long way towards shoring up a top-two berth and a home qualifying final if they win Sunday's match, while the Kangaroos are fighting to keep their finals hopes alive.
Kennedy didn't travel with the Eagles on Friday and they confirmed on Saturday afternoon he was out due to soreness.
Shuey, one of West Coast's top midfielders, has also withdrawn for personal reasons.
Jake Waterman and Jack Petruccelle will take their places in the side. Eagles coach Adam Simpson was worried about North Melbourne's dominant record in Hobart, even before Kennedy and Shuey went out of the team.
North Melbourne have won 12 of their past 14 matches at Blundstone Arena, turning it into something of a fortress.
One of those wins came against West Coast in 2015 - a year in which the Eagles went on to make the grand final.
The wind was howling that day, with Eagles defender Jeremy McGovern describing it as among his toughest playing conditions.
"I reckon it was a seven-goal breeze last time we played there," Simpson said on Friday.
"There were one or two kicks that went back over our heads. Mind you it was Sam Butler - half of his kicks did that anyway.
"It's a different ground than most because of the conditions. "We'll back ourselves in but we understand it's a big challenge. It's like playing Hawthorn in Launceston - it's not impossible but it's a little bit of a different environment and it's a bit of a flight."
Defender Lewis Jetta (calf) is also out, with the Eagles recalling key defender Tom Barrass.
North Melbourne welcome back Mason Wood (hamstring) and midfielder Will Walker will make his AFL debut.
Simpson said it was vital for his team to limit the supply to star North Melbourne forward Ben Brown, who leads the Coleman medal race with 52 majors. The ruck battle between North's Todd Goldstein and Eagles duo Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy is also crucial.
Collingwood's loss on Saturday means if West Coast win, they move at least six points clear of third spot with four rounds left.
The Kangaroos are 11th, a game plus percentage outside the top eight.