Reduced stoppages impacting Naitanui game

·2-min read

West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui says the reduction in stoppages this season has limited opportunities for players like himself and Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps to use their biggest strengths to impact AFL games.

But the Eagles' ruck star has also noticed the "ping-ponging" style of play - largely attributed to the new man-on-the-mark rule - has left him with more energy to get around the ground over the opening two rounds.

"Contests have come down a fair bit, stoppages, so guys who probably thrive on that like myself and the Paddy Cripps' of the world don't get as many looks because the game's just back and forth," Naitanui said.

"You're not having the physicality of wrestling someone as often ... that's the way it's going to look like for the rest of this year and maybe for the years to come.

"You try and move a fridge the whole day and do a bit of removalist stuff and you'll be tired too.

"That gives you ability to get around the ground and if that's the way I've got to play a bit more, I'll do that."

Naitanui is open to spending more time on the ground because of the reduced interchange rotation cap, brought down from 90 to 75 this season.

The 30-year-old has generally played about 60 per cent of game time in recent years, but played 72 per cent in last Sunday's narrow loss to the Western Bulldogs.

This week, Naitanui is preparing for a battle with former teammate Scott Lycett when West Coast host red-hot Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium.

The pair were ruck partners at the Eagles until late in the 2018 season, when Naitanui suffered a serious knee injury that ended his chances of featuring in the club's premiership that year.

Lycett took over the lead role and played in the flag-winning team with Nathan Vardy for support before moving to the Power at the end of the year.

"We used to sit down every Monday and watch our tapes together," Naitanui said.

"We'd go through our strengths, what our weaknesses were and how we beat certain opponents, so we know each other back and front.

"It's just a matter of who can execute it better on game day."

Naitanui expects teammate Luke Shuey to return from a hamstring injury against Port Adelaide after the Eagles' captain missed the first two rounds of the season.