West Coast defender Brad Sheppard is set to have his hands full yet again when he lines up against Hawthorn in Saturday's clash at the MCG.
West Coast defender Brad Sheppard can't help but feel a tad anxious lining up against the AFL's best small forwards, but says he's loving the challenge.
Sheppard has become one of West Coast's most reliable players, often shutting down the premier medium or small forwards of the competition.
In last week's 35-point win over Essendon, Sheppard kept Orazio Fantasia goalless from just six disposals.
Sheppard is set to get the job on either Jack Gunston or Luke Breust in Saturday's clash with Hawthorn at the MCG.
"You have a lot of anxious moments leading up to games and in games, because you know every forward you're playing on throughout the year is capable of kicking a bag in a quarter," Sheppard said.
"It definitely keeps you on your toes. That's why I can't leave anything to chance during the week.
"You never go into any game feeling like you're going to dominate.
"You live and die by the sword when you're playing that deep, but I'm enjoying the challenge."
Defenders on rival sides are also getting plenty of anxious moments when lining up against West Coast.
Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling are arguably the best spearhead duo going around, while the ground-level pace of Willie Rioli, Liam Ryan, and Jamie Cripps is frightening.
Last week's debutant Jarrod Cameron added more lightning speed, and he's expected to retain his spot against the Hawks.
"It's definitely the most dynamic forward line I've seen in my time at the club," Sheppard said.
"We just need to give them enough supply."
Saturday's game will mark the return of Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui, who will be playing his first AFL match since undergoing a second knee reconstruction last year.
Defender Jeremy McGovern goes out through suspension, but the Eagles are hopeful Tom Barrass (calf cork) will be fit to play.
West Coast (9-4) sit in fourth spot, while Hawthorn's finals hopes are on thin ice after three straight losses saw them slip to a 5-8 record.