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Friday, September 2, 2016 - 11:51 AM by Chris Pike
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WEST Perth welcomes back Shane Nelson, Dean Munns, Tyler Keitel and Steve Potente for Saturday's WAFL qualifying final against South Fremantle and coach Bill Monaghan hopes the Falcons finals experience can be used as a positive.

The Falcons finished the home and away season winning 12 of their last 15 games following a 1-4 start to end up in third position to book a qualifying final berth against the Bulldogs this Saturday at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

It looms as a fascinating contest with West Perth coming off winning the 2013 premiership and playing in the 2015 grand final while South Fremantle hasn’t made a finals appearance since 2011.

Which of the Falcons' finals experience or the Bulldogs' exuberance can turn into a greater positive could play a significant factor in the end result.

West Perth has some interesting selection decisions to make but with star midfielder Nelson, tagger Munns, key defender Keitel and small forward Potente all making themselves available, they are automatic inclusions in the 22 on Saturday.

Nelson has missed the most time of the trio after he suffered a badly broken nose and fractured cheekbone in the last quarter of the Round 20 loss to Subiaco at Kingsway Reserve.

While he will be wearing a helmet, Monaghan sees no reason he won't be right to return on Saturday and will be hoping he returns where he left off having averaged 35.3 possessions in his 12 games in 2016.

"Our indication is that he will play with a helmet on and that's been approved. He has actually trained to a certain level by kicking and running but staying out of the contested drills for two weeks," Monaghan said.

"There was a point we actually thought he would play against Swans and it got really close that he was going to get cleared, but I think a lot of the decision in that if he doesn’t have to play this week, then next week is fine.

"He is structurally sound because it's been plated so it's only a matter of getting the swelling down and making sure there is no more bleeding. Four weeks is pretty much right for that."

Meanwhile, Monaghan has no doubt that Munns and Keitel are automatic inclusions to take on the Bulldogs after missing last Saturday's win over Swan Districts while Potente should be OK too despite having battled some niggling complaints.

"Munns was just crook. Tyler actually trained and was filthy with me for not picking him and Steve has had some on-going issues with a number of things for the year," he said.

"He hasn’t had great continuity, but he has been in fantastic form. He has done a fair bit of training without doing all of it the last two weeks so I would expect he's right in the selection mix."

Monaghan is already West Perth's longest-serving coach and having guided the club to the most wins in charge as he now prepares for a fifth finals appearance with him at the helm.

Because of that he knows finals is a completely different ball game to the home and away season and only time will tell if West Perth having a team with the majority having at least played in a grand final compared a South Fremantle mostly consisting of September debutants will be a factor.

"I hope it counts for a lot and I hope that's the difference between the two sides. But that's a little bit of an unknown really. Especially through 2013 we went in with a young and inexperienced side and played two finals, and won both of them," he said.

"It depends on the club and the group that you have, and the way they are coached and mentally prepare. I think both have their advantages. I'm sure Todd will be telling his players that it's an advantage to be fresh and enthusiastic, and I'll be telling mine that we've got experiences to call on and some hurt from last year that can drive us.

"It's a bit like playing away and whether it's Saturday or Sunday games, and whether you have byes or no byes, it's about how you handle it and prepare for it. You just prepare for what you've got. There's no point Todd saying he has a finals experienced side and there's not any point me saying we are first timers at it, but it is a new finals series and all that really matters is this week."

As for playing the game at Fremantle Community Bank Oval, it holds no fears for West Perth and as long as it's not Round 1 again at the port where the Falcons lost by 35 points the past two years, Monaghan is happy.

"It's a whole new ball game. You play 23 rounds and 20 games to eliminate four sides, it's a long process to get to here. The players have worked really hard after we were 1-4," Monaghan said.

"To get into a position of winning 12 of our last 15 is a fantastic effort for them to physically and mentally turn it around. Now it's a whole new world in the finals and we are going to need to be at our very best and a lot better than we were this week. The players know that.

"South at Fremantle is what the fixture says and we don’t hold any fears. South have been a really good side for the year so we will just prepare well mentally and physically, have a look at them and head down to the port next week. Hopefully for everyone who is there it's a cracking game.