Blues set to target Naitanui - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blues set to target Naitanui

By Justin Chadwick 05/03/2010 05:31:48 PM Comments (0)

West Coast ruck sensation Nic Naitanui must brace himself for a physical barrage after Carlton midfielder Kade Simpson confirmed the Blues would target him in Saturday's practice match at Leederville Oval, Perth.

Naitanui has starred for the Eagles this pre-season and with four-times All-Australian Dean Cox given the week off, the 19-year-old will lead the ruck against Carlton's Robbie Warnock.

While it's only a practice match, Simpson said the Blues would have to target the 201cm ruckman to limit his influence.

"I watched round one of the NAB Cup and I was in awe of him as well," Simpson said after the Blues landed at Perth airport on Friday.

"We'll have to have a few blokes trying to crash into him and tire him out.

"He's a freakish young player."

But while Naitanui will be one of the star attractions on show, former Fremantle ruckman Warnock will continue his bid to take over as Carlton's No.1 ruckman.

With Brendan Fevola no longer at the club, the Blues are eager to use Matthew Kreuzer in a forward role.

However, that can only be achieved if Warnock, who was cut down last year by a stress fracture in his foot, can handle the bulk of the ruck duties.

"If his body can hold up ... he can definitely hold the number one ruck spot," Simpson said.

"He's worked under probably the best ruckman in the comp in (Aaron) Sandilands so he's got a good apprenticeship."

Simpson was confident the Blues possessed the attacking depth to cover for the departure of Fevola and the loss of Brad Fisher to a serious knee injury.

"It's going to be exciting to see who stands up and kicks goals," Simpson said.

"If Waitey (Jarrad Waite) can slide down there, Eddie Betts and Chris Yarran kicking a few with big Lachie Henderson as well, we've got multiple targets and hopefully they can all carry the load.

"Robbie (Warnock) has done his full pre-season, played the last three games now.

"So he's getting a bit of match fitness under his belt and it's freeing up Kreuzer to roam around the forward line."

Kreuzer and Bryce Gibbs have been rested against the Eagles but Waite is expected to play about half the game in his first hit-out since suffering a serious knee injury in round nine last year.

"I think he might be a bit nervous, he hasn't played for a while," Simpson said.

"But he's been training the house down and looks in good form.

"He's a big part to us and we missed him heavily last year when he went down.

"He played a lot back last year before he went down but this year if he could swing forward and kick a couple of goals that would be great as well."

West Coast will again be without key midfielders Daniel Kerr and Matt Priddis, while Josh Kennedy, Cox and Mark LeCras have also been rested.

Andrew Embley and Shannon Hurn return after missing last week's heavy defeat to Port Adelaide.

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