Andrew Gaff. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian.
Andrew Gaff. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian.

Andrew Gaff says West Coast must respect their next opponents, Port Adelaide, and not get caught up thinking about the two blockbusters to end their home-and-away season.

The Eagles midfielder warned his teammates to remain on alert for an improved Power at AAMI Stadium on Sunday as East Fremantle pair Bradd Dalziell and Mitch Brown, Andrew Strijk and Lewis Stevenson were added to a seven-man interchange bench yesterday.

Fringe utility player Tom Swift was the sole omission from the side which beat Geelong last Friday.

Wingman Matt Rosa (broken jaw) will miss for a third week.

Port Adelaide had five inclusions - Alipate Carlile, Daniel Stewart, Aaron Young, Tom Jonas and Chad Wingard - in their expanded squad. Troy Chaplin (knee) and Hamish Hartlett (suspension) will miss the clash.

West Coast are clear favourites to extend the Power's four-game losing streak at the Adelaide venue.

The game against one of the league's battlers is the calm before the storm for the Eagles, who face Collingwood in Perth and Hawthorn at the MCG in the final two rounds.

At least two wins will be needed from their final three matches for the Eagles to have any hope of finishing in the top four.

Port Adelaide initially pushed premiership favourites Hawthorn last Sunday in their first game under caretaker coach Garry Hocking.

Gaff said the Eagles should be wary of the trend where battling sides often lifted under a new coach.

"We'll spend as much time as we do on Port Adelaide as we do against Collingwood," Gaff said.

"We're primed for a big game. We expect them to come out at their best.

"They played pretty well for three-and-a-bit quarters (against Hawthorn) and we expect them to play well for four quarters this week. Obviously with a new coach, clubs do seem to play a little bit better straight away."

Gaff dismissed suggestions the Eagles' poor month, where they were thrashed by Sydney, Adelaide and Fremantle, had anything to do with a heavy training phase for next month's finals.

"You come off a few tough games where everyone's feeling a little bit sore and you might drop off a little bit, the time spent at training," Gaff said.

"You have some weeks where you feel fresh and you might go a little bit harder.

"You'd have to ask the physical conditioning staff, but I don't think there was any loading or anything during that time."

Gaff sits in West Coast's top three when it comes to distance covered during a game, clocking up roughly 16km each match.

The 20-year-old said he viewed his running power as his greatest strength, but wanted to contribute more in terms of goals, having kicked just seven for the season.

West Coast's midfield has collectively spoken about helping out more on the scoreboard.

Seven of their 16 majors against Geelong last Friday night were kicked by midfielders, with Gaff and Matt Priddis each finishing with two.

"We've got to spread the load a little bit more," Gaff said.

"That means midfielders kicking a few goals. That's why it was nice for me and Pridda and those guys to kick a few goals, because I know I haven't kicked too many this year."

"We're primed for a big game. We expect them to come out at their best." " *Andrew Gaff *

The West Australian

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