Sore Naitanui set to face AFL Giants

Justin Chadwick
West Coast coach Adam Simpson says Nic Naitanui has been playing despite soreness

West Coast coach Adam Simpson says Nic Naitanui has been playing sore, but he's backing the star ruckman to play Sunday's crunch AFL clash with GWS at Optus Stadium.

Naitanui, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, has been criticised in recent weeks for a lack of physicality and impact on games.

Greats Jonathan Brown and Nick Riewoldt said Naitanui didn't go hard enough during the round 14 loss to Essendon.

He tallied just seven disposals during last week's defeat to Adelaide, leading to more criticism.

Simpson says he will give Naitanui a rest when the 28-year-old truly needs it, but he doesn't expect it to be this week.

"He's a little bit sore at the moment. But whether that keeps him out of the side - I doubt it," Simpson said, without specifying exactly where Naitanui is sore.

"We'll name him for sure. It's not as dire as that."

Simpson said Naitanui, who was widely praised for his hot form earlier this season, hadn't been bothered by the recent criticism.

West Coast will unleash their eighth debutant of the season when key position prospect Oscar Allen lines up against the Giants.

Former Cat Nathan Vardy and youngster Daniel Venables also come into the side.

Vardy's inclusion bolsters a forward line still missing Josh Kennedy (leg), Mark LeCras (wrist), and Jack Darling (ankle).

Misfiring forwards Jake Waterman and Fraser McInnes were dropped, while Liam Ryan wasn't considered following his early-morning car crash on Monday.

GWS will also unveil a debutant after naming goalsneak Brent Daniels. Harry Perryman joins Daniels in the side.

Forward Jonathon Patton (knee) and Jacob Hopper (calf) were ruled out through injury.

Patton has already undergone two reconstructions on his right knee, and he now needs one on his left after a training mishap earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Simpson said the club was still investigating Monday morning's incident that ended with Ryan crashing his car into a tree.

It remains unclear when Ryan will be available for selection again.