New West Coast AFLW coach Michael Prior is remaining pragmatic as he prepares to lead the Eagles in their third season in 2022.
The Eagles will kick off their campaign with the Western Derby against Fremantle, whom they beat in their pre-season clash two weeks ago.
They’re yet to beat their state rivals since their entry into the AFLW, with the two sides having largely occupied opposite ends of the ladder.
Fremantle went undefeated in 2020 before the season’s cancellation, while West Coast won its sole game by four points over the Western Bulldogs. Similarly in 2021 the Dockers were finalists, while the Eagles finished 12th.
Despite the win over one of the best sides in the AFLW, Prior is not reading too much into the recent form.
“There were some promising signs, but we’re under no illusion of where we’re at and where we need to be. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” he said at Captains’ Day on Tuesday.
“It was a pre-season game, both clubs made a lot of changes at halftime, so we don’t take too much out of it.
“We know what we’re up against come Saturday is going to be completely different. Winning’s a habit, and so is losing and we hope to be on the winning ledger.”Embed from Getty Images
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As a former defender and former backline coach, defence is high on the agenda for Prior.
The Eagles let in an average of eight goals a game in 2021, the second-highest in the competition, and Prior will be working to fix that.
“My background, where I’ve been, and what I’ve done in footy, is working along that team defence and the backline groups,” he said.
“I think we’ve been able to impart a little bit of knowledge on the girls, and their thirst for wanting to learn and get better and improve has been really impressive.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but there’s signs already that we’ve improved.”
For Prior, season three will be all about being competitive for longer, with the Eagles still a “developing club” in his eyes.
“We want to get to the top as quick as we can, and we’ve got an opportunity to do that on Saturday night,” he said.
“We look for little things in our game, be competitive for longer, I think there were a couple of games last year- when we took it up to the side that won the premiership in Brisbane. That first half, we were really dominant, the second half a completely different story.”
“If we can close the gap and be more competitive for longer, the wins will come off the back of that.”
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