Naitanui might get ruck role for Eagles - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Naitanui might get ruck role for Eagles

By Justin Chadwick 23/06/2009 05:17:14 PM Comments (0)

Nic Naitanui got his first taste of AFL action last round but West Coast's new cult hero is set to receive an even bigger slice of the pie against Hawthorn at Subiaco Oval on Saturday night.

With four-time All-Australian ruckman Dean Cox struggling to overcome a groin complaint, Naitanui could be thrust into the lead ruck role against the Hawks in just his second game.

Naitanui, 19, impressed in his AFL debut against Richmond, tallying 11 disposals and seven hit-outs to go with a spectacular pack mark.

West Coast coach John Worsfold rated Cox only a 50-50 chance to take on the Hawks but was confident the 201cm Naitanui was ready to assume the No.1 mantle should Cox not come up in time.

"He has done a fair bit of ruck work for Swans (in the WAFL) so he could certainly cover a fair workload," Worsfold said.

Forgotten ruckman Mark Seaby, who has been relegated to WAFL duties for much of the season, is a strong chance to earn a recall if Cox fails to play.

Seaby, frustrated by his limited game time, failed in his bid to be traded at the end of last year and is out of contract at season's end.

But Worsfold said the 25-year-old, who has 100 matches under his belt and was part of the 2006 premiership side, was a required player at the club.

"(There is a) definite role for him at this club," Worsfold said.

"I would love to still have Seabs on the list next year.

"He's come along really well. He's still only very young in terms of ruckmen.

"I think he can ruck at AFL level for another 10 years and offer us a huge amount.

"He's at a club at the moment where a guy (Cox) has been an All-Australian ruckman for the last four years and we know how talented and super-fit Dean is.

"And we've got a young, up and coming potential great ruckman (in Naitanui). That's just the hand Mark's been dealt."

But Chad Fletcher's time at the club is nearing an end, with Worsfold admitting the 29-year-old out-of-contract midfielder did not fit into his future plans.

Fletcher was dropped after West Coast's 97-point loss to St Kilda in round three and Worsfold said he was unsure whether the 177-game veteran would be able to break back into the side for a farewell game.

"If he happens to be in the team late in the year and it's round 22, we'll call it his send-off game," Worsfold said.

Adam Hunter (shoulder), Andrew Embley (ankle) and Tom Swift (leg) are in doubt to take on the Hawks (6-6 record), who could welcome back premiership defenders Stephen Gilham and Rick Ladson.

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