Naitanui looking good ahead of AFL restart

Ed Jackson
Eagles teammates believe ruckman Nic Naitanui (c) is in his best physical shape for years

With months of training under his belt, star ruckman Nic Naitanui is looking as fit as he has for a long time according to West Coast teammate Shannon Hurn.

After knee injuries ruined Naitanui's 2017 and 2018 campaigns, Naitanui also spent time on the sidelines during 2019 with a syndesmosis injury to his right ankle.

The 30-year-old is on the Gold Coast in the AFL's quarantine hub ahead of this weekend's season restart.

Hurn is convinced Naitanui heads into Saturday's round two match against the Suns at Metricon Stadium in his best physical shape for a long time.

"He's in the best condition that he's been for a while, especially with the injuries that he's had," Hurn said.

"Yes, unfortunately we've only played one game but he's been able to get five months training in to him so I think he's going to be in good stead.

"He covers the ground pretty well, his explosiveness but I probably think he can do some more repeat efforts and that's I know what he prides himself on ... taking some marks, competing.

"I think he can do some more yes."

The big question is how much workload Naitanui will undertake against the Suns with shortened quarters putting a question mark over the benefit of going into the match with two specialist ruckmen.

Hurn acknowledged that is a dilemma the Eagles coaching staff would have to confront at the selection table.

"The beauty is we could do both," he said.

"We could have (Tom) Hickey or (Nathan) Vardy easily come in and ruck with Nic or Nic could do it himself and then pinch hit somehow. I don't have a gut feel.

"Nic will be able to play more game time but I'm not sure how that'll pan out."