Petrie set to line-up for West Coast in season opener

ALL SET: Former Ballarat Swans junior Drew Petrie is poised to begin the next phase of his AFL career with West Coast Eagles against his old side North Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images

ALL SET: Former Ballarat Swans junior Drew Petrie is poised to begin the next phase of his AFL career with West Coast Eagles against his old side North Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images

West Coast Eagle recruit Drew Petrie is almost certain to face his former side North Melbourne in the opening round of the AFL season.

With Scott Lycett ruled out with a dislocated his left should, Petrie and ex-Cat Nathan Vardy are set to be picked as West Coast's ruck duo to take on the Kangaroos.

Petrie and Vardy have been paired together for much of the pre-season, and Simpson has been pleased with their progress.

Petrie, a 316-game veteran, will have a point to prove against North Melbourne after being axed by the club at the end of last season.

But the Ballarat export did his best to play down the clash.

"There'll be no mixed emotions," Petrie said.

"I'm here to win for the West Coast Eagles and do everything I can to make this year a successful one for the footy club."

The Eagles are being tipped to finish inside the top-four despite the absence of star ruckman Nic Naitanui.

But Simpson is not reading into what the betting markets are saying.

"Well, two weeks ago I would have thought people are saying we might drop out of the finals. It's pretty fickle the outside noise," Simpson said.

"For us, we want to play finals, we want to finish top four, and we want to win a premiership.

"But you've got to do the first one first. I've got a feeling there's 17 other sides saying the same thing."

Meanwhile, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley wants the AFL sceptics to hold fire on another ex-Kangaroos Daniel Wells, saying the star midfielder is exactly what the Magpies need.

The Magpies confirmed on Tuesday that Wells is unavailable for round one, an obvious call given his quiet pre-season and history of lower-leg injuries.

Recruited from North Melbourne as a free agent, 32-year-old Wells has struggled with calf niggles since joining the Magpies and played no part in their pre-season matches.

The critics are lining up, particularly given the Magpies signed Wells on a three-year deal.

"We haven't played a game yet, so can we just take a breath?," Buckley said before the Magpies confirmed Wells' unavailability for round one.

"Everyone likes to talk about three years ... we'll get there.

"Would we have liked him to be a little bit more forward in his preparation?

“Yeah, absolutely. Would he? Yeah, absolutely he would.”

Collingwood is blessed with midfield depth and Buckley said Wells would add a key ingredient.

"He was the best front-half kick in the competition last year in his 19 games," Buckley said.