He’s been dogged by groin issues for the best part of 15 months, but West Coast “beast” Nic Naitanui has lost none of his explosive pace or dazzling leap, according to former Fremantle ruckman Justin Longmuir.
Naitanui’s 2013 campaign was ruined by a long-standing groin injury, but he’ll front up in Sunday’s clash with the Bulldogs at Patersons Stadium after making it through two pre-season hit-outs unscathed.
The Eagles are hopeful Naitanui’s groin issues are now behind him, with Longmuir predicting new coach Adam Simpson will be amazed by what the 201cm will produce in games.
“Looking at it from an opposition’s point of view as Simmo has looked at him from the past, sometimes you don’t get the full perspective,” said Longmuir, who is West Coast’s forward line coach
“It will be interesting to see what Adam’s thoughts are after he watches him for the first half of the year. He’s an exciting beast and he doesn’t need a lot of possessions to influence the game.
“He did a fair bit of centre bounce work in our scratch match last week and looked to have his leap there, so that’s exciting.
“Obviously his endurance won’t be at full peak because he hasn’t had the match fitness. But we’re hoping that his explosiveness is still there.”
Meanwhile, Eagles skipper Darren Glass will wait until later in the year before deciding whether to play on or not.
Glass indicated last week that 2014 is likely to be his last year, but he wants to sit down with the club’s hierarchy near the end of the season before making a final call.
The 32-year-old said the emergence of Eric Mackenzie, Will Schofield and Mitch Brown in recent years meant the club’s key position defensive stocks would be in good shape once he retires.
“Eric Mackenzie is our main defender now,” Glass said.
“He takes the No.1 target and that’s been happening for a few years now. It’s helped me add a couple of extra years to my career.
“And clearly Mitch Brown and Will Schofield continue to develop and improve. So we’ve been putting that (succession plan) into place for a long time.”