Sandi can get Freo home, says McManus
Aaron Sandilands. Pic: AFL Media

Former Fremantle captain Shaun McManus says Aaron Sandilands' new-found aggression could be the difference in Sunday's western derby as both sides seek a victory that will enhance their September aspirations.

West Coast and Fremantle are seventh and eighth respectively with 3-3 records, but well off the pace they displayed early in the season.

The Eagles won their opening three games, while Fremantle lost three matches last month after starting 2014 with a Friday night mauling of Collingwood at Etihad Stadium.

The loser is likely to slip out of the top eight at the end of the round and McManus said any early initiative gained by either side would be significant.

He highlighted Sandilands, who will celebrate his 200th game in the encounter, as a possible game-breaker for the Dockers.

"He's certainly now, and he has been for a number of years, trying to be a leader on the field," McManus said.

"That means you've got to be aggressive and you've got to be competitive and you've got to deliver. I have noticed over the last couple of weeks he's really got aggressive.

"I think that's showing his leadership given the fact we've lost a few games in a row.

"He's trying to then step up and say 'OK, I'm one of the leaders of this team and I'm going to make things happen'.

"He's just doing the best he can and the best he can means we're a chance to win."

Former Eagle Andrew Embley and one-time Dockers skipper Shaun McManus have been busy on a promotional tour for Sunday’s western derby. Picture: Michael O’Brien/WA News

McManus defended Sandilands against comments from AFL legend Leigh Matthews, who said the 211cm giant's influence was overrated.

"I wouldn't swap him for a million dollars because I know when I've stood in there a few times and asked him to hit it some way and he's hit it straight to me and you run, you look like the champion but it's all his work," he said.

"I certainly think he's worth his weight in gold."

McManus and former Eagle Andrew Embley appeared at the Wembley Hotel yesterday as part of the Carlton Draught Derby Legends Tour. The show moves to the Paddington Ale House today at 1pm, then the Mullaloo Beach Hotel tomorrow.

The Dockers were installed as favourites at the start of the week and have remained at $1.53 with, West Coast at $2.55.

But McManus said the matching win-loss records and an inability to kick winning totals of late would ensure the contest was close throughout.

"It's going to be an interesting one," he said. "It's a big, big loss for whoever doesn't get the chocolates this week.

"I'm uneasy with the fact that Fremantle are favourites. I guess I normally am, but they're not playing well.

"West Coast have had opportunities to win their games, they've played pretty good football without closing out the game.

"And Fremantle last week played pretty good footy without being able to score."

The West Australian

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