Eagle Sheppard won't dwell on GF heartache

Brad Sheppard (l) and Jeremy McGovern embrace after the Eagles' grand final win over Collingwood.
Brad Sheppard (l) and Jeremy McGovern embrace after the Eagles' grand final win over Collingwood.

West Coast defender Brad Sheppard says he leant heavily on Nic Naitanui and Andrew Gaff to deal with the heartbreak of missing out on the club's premiership charge last year.

Sheppard tore his hamstring in the qualifying final win over Collingwood, while Naitanui (knee) and Gaff (suspended) also missed out on flag glory.

The trio are keen to taste the ultimate success this year, with Sheppard insisting the rest of the squad has plenty of hunger to go back-to-back.

Sheppard had played 95 straight games before being cut down by the serious hamstring tear.

The 27-year-old did his best to keep his spirits high after the injury, and said having Naitanui and Gaff share the experience had helped.

"Nic Nat and Andrew Gaff were quality players who I leant on more than others because we were in similar boats," Sheppard said.

"We did share a fair bit of dialogue in those weeks. It was all positive energy when you're in the club, because it was a pretty special time for the club and the state.

"We tried to be as positive as we could, and we're really rapt with how the boys performed on grand final day."

Sheppard is doing his best to focus on the future, rather than dwelling on the fact he missed out on playing in the flag win.

"It's disappointing I wasn't there, but I was really proud of what we were able to achieve last year," Sheppard said.

"It's one of those things, it's a unique situation playing 22 or 23 games throughout the year and missing out on the last couple.

"I still felt part of the group, even though I wasn't out on the field for the prelim or the grand final."

Sheppard doesn't feel like he has extra motivation to win a flag this year.

"I'm one of 25 blokes on the list at the moment that haven't experienced a premiership," Sheppard said.

"The training standards so far have been really high, and the boys have come back in good shape.

"We're not going to approach this year any differently from probably the past four or five years. The hunger is there for everyone."

Sheppard was initially told his hamstring injury was a minor one.

But the damage soon became apparent, with the star Eagle ruled out for 12 weeks.

Sheppard has since made a full recovery, and is confident he has no demons from the injury.

Australian Associated Press