West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui will miss Saturday’s practice match against Fremantle after injuring his hamstring during training.
Naitanui didn’t play in West Coast’s intra-club match last weekend and missed training today after spending yesterday on light duties.
West Coast are confident the injury isn’t serious and he will play before round one.
“Nic pulled up with a tight hamstring after a training session last week and given the time of year we are just managing him conservatively,” Eagles General Manager of Football Craig Vozzo said.
“He has had a low-key start to the week on the track and we will build up his workload later this week and next with the intention of him playing some game minutes in our AAMI Community Series match.”
Naitanui had his best season in 2020, dominating the ruck and relishing the shorter quarters. He won the club’s best and fairest award and was selected in the All-Australian team.
The athletic big man played 17 matches, which was his highest tally since 2015, and averaged 29 hit outs per game as he made the most of the reduction in playing time.
With quarters returning to 20 minutes plus time-on this season, it remains to be seen how the Eagles handle their superstar’s workload in a bid to avoid him suffering injuries.
While Naitanui won’t play against Fremantle, defender Brad Sheppard has been cleared to compete against the Dockers despite breaking his nose.
Sheppard suffered the injury after receiving a blow to the face during the intraclub game but has shown no ill effects since returning to training.
He hasn’t displayed any bruises and has participated in all of the club’s drills.
Saturday’s match will be played at Mineral Resources Park but the clash will be closed to the public as part of the AFL’s pre-season protocols.