West Coast forward Jamie Cripps is confident Mark LeCras will bounce back with a bang in Saturday night’s semi-final clash with GWS at Spotless Stadium.
LeCras went goalless from just nine disposals in last week’s extra-time AFL win over Port Adelaide.
In LeCras’ 11 finals appearances, he has returned just 12 goals – well down on his usual output.
West Coast are expected to stick with LeCras for Saturday’s knockout clash, and Cripps is backing the 31-year-old to produce the goods.
“He’s a gun,” Cripps said.
“He’d be one of our best forwards – one of the best players in our team.
“He’s got a lot of experience, and he’ll bounce back, and he’ll probably be one of our best this weekend.
“He’s massive for us. He’s always helping me and Luke Partington out.”
LeCras is out of contract at season’s end, and his future remains up in the air.
But he showed his value during the back end of the season with a series of strong displays.
West Coast face a massive challenge to back up from last week’s elimination final win.
Not only were they forced to play 10 minutes of extra time, but the Eagles will have to travel for a second straight week.
Cripps is confident the players will be able to deal with the extra burden.
“The extra time at the end of the game was nothing. We’re a fit group,” Cripps said.
“That’s what we do pre-season for.
“With the flights, that’s just normal for us. We fly every second week.”
Cripps has booted 26.18 this season in what has been a solid return.
But it will be his pressure in the forward line that could prove more crucial than his goals when he lines up against the Giants’ running backs.
GWS boast a host of speedy rebounding defenders, with the likes of Nathan Wilson and Heath Shaw looming as key figures.
Cripps said it was important to limit the Giants’ defensive run.
GWS were dealt a double blow this week when star forward Jeremy Cameron (hamstring) and ruckman Shane Mumford (foot) were ruled out for the rest of the season.
MARK LECRAS’ GOAL RETURNS IN FINALS
2006 – 0.1 in a qualifying final loss to Sydney
2007 – 1.0 in a qualifying final loss to Port Adelaide
2007 – 2.3 in a semi-final loss to Collingwood
2011 – 2.0 in a qualifying final loss to Collingwood
2011 – 1.1 in a semi-final win over Carlton
2011 – 1.0 in a preliminary final loss to Geelong
2015 – 2.1 in a qualifying final win over Hawthorn
2015 – 1.3 in a preliminary final win over North Melbourne
2015 – 1.2 in a grand final loss to Hawthorn
2016 – 1.2 in an elimination final loss to the Bulldogs
2017 – 0.1 in an elimination final win over Port Adelaide