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Naitanui looks to exploit Goldstein

Sportal September 5, 2012, 7:32 am
Nic Naitanui

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Nic Naitanui has backed himself and Dean Cox to provide the West Coast midfield with first use against North Melbourne in their elimination final on Sunday.

The Eagles ruck duo won the hit outs 52-19 against Hawthorn last week and have been recognised as the dominant pairing in the competition across the season.

They will face Todd Goldstein this weekend, and Naitanui said he would provide a unique challenge.

"Goldstein is a great ruckman. (He) just missed out last year with All Australian selection," he said.

"I look forward to the challenge of Goldstein, and I'm sure (Cox) does as well.

Naitanui said he did not expect Goldstein to continue the recent trend of running across his line to negate his leap.

"Goldstein jumps pretty high, so I'm sure he'll back himself in to try to win the tap. So I expect him to have a clear run and jump at it," Naitanui said.

Cox questioned how successful opposition team's negative tactics against Naitanui had been.

"Out of all those, I wonder how many opposition ruckmen got their hands on the ball against Nic still," he said.

"He's always getting first hands on the footy. He's going to come up against players that are going to try different approaches - cut off his angle, his run-up.

"You don't want someone to impede (Naitanui's) strength, which is his timing of the ball and his ability to hit it at the highest point and have a fair contest at it.

"If the free kicks aren't getting paid, then it is legal."

The pair of Naitanui and Cox have contributed 48 goals in 2012 while resting forward in an attempt to stretch opposition defenses.

And Naitanui said he expected they would do that against the Kangaroos.

"We've had that focus all year around, especially when we come up against a team that plays one identified ruckman," he said.

"It is an opportunity where we can work them over and push hard forward.

"We've been pretty confident in doing it this year and being able to go forward and kick a few goals.

"It's something we look to do."

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