Naitanui forces Western Force rethink - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Naitanui forces Western Force rethink

By Justin Chadwick 19/02/2010 06:30:10 PM Comments (0)

West Coast will limit Nic Naitanui's marketing responsibilities and the coaching staff are already rethinking his on-field role as the 201cm ruckman's star continues to grow at an astonishing rate.

Eagles coach John Worsfold admitted even he was left surprised by Naitanui's inspiring game against Essendon last week, when the 19-year-old gathered 18 possessions, laid eight tackles, tallied 21 hit-outs and kicked four goals in a match-winning effort.

Prior to that game, Naitanui was set for a limited role in 2010 playing second fiddle to four-times All-Australian Dean Cox.

But Worsfold said he had scrapped those plans following Naitanui's faster-than-expected development.

"Prior to Friday night we were just going to use him in bits and pieces but we've changed," a candid Worsfold said of Naitanui, who has just 10 AFL games under his belt.

"I think he surprised us all with how well he went.

"It's opened up a lot of different challenges for us as a match committee to have a look at.

"There's various ways we can use Nic and Dean together and we'll have a look at it depending on what different circumstances call for and the time of the year.

"If Nic gets a bit sore at any stage Cox can do a lot more of the ruck work.

"They carry a fair workload both boys so I think it's going to be great for Dean that he's going to have more assistance and great for Nic to get more ground time in the ruck.

"But they are both agile and smart enough to play in the forward line as well."

As Naitanui's profile and stature continues to grow, so, too, do the demands on his time off the field.

Worsfold said the club would have to monitor Naitanui's workload even more carefully than when West Coast's last prodigy first hit the scene - Ben Cousins.

"The media opportunities now are massive, way above what they were when Ben started (in 1996)," Worsfold said.

"I'm not even sure if The Footy Show was up going then.

"So there is the potential for a lot more demand on Nic's time.

"The press and the attention is nothing, that's just out there, that floats around.

"But if he had to go and do interviews everyday or shoot TV ads every day, then that's going to impact him, that's physical stuff.

"We are very conscious of the demands on him.

"Our marketing department are aware of the demands on his time, we're aware he's also got his own management that might sign him up for deals that come up.

"The real key is communicating with everyone so we all understand what he's doing.

"His management don't want him doing too much because they want him to reach his potential as a player, we don't want him doing too much because he's still got a lot of development and a lot of time he's got to spend training.

"So it's just making sure everyone's aware.

"We've just got to make sure they don't build up too much."

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