Goodes eager for Naitanui battle - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Goodes eager for Naitanui battle

Justin Chadwick 07/04/2011 06:46:30 PM Comments (0)

Sydney co-captain Adam Goodes will attempt to burn Nic Naitanui on the attacking end if he ends up playing on the versatile West Coast ruckman in Saturday night's AFL clash at Patersons Stadium.

Naitanui's ability to play as a big-bodied ruck-rover has unsettled teams this season, with his blistering pace, athleticism and 201cm height making him hard to match up on when he's not in the ruck.

Goodes, a three-time All-Australian and dual Brownlow Medallist, presents the ideal midfield match-up and the 31-year-old said he would try to expose Naitanui's inexperience if pitted against the unpredictable Eagle.

"It's exciting, he's very athletic and I've been watching a bit of tape of him and he's been playing a lot better as a ruck-rover and midfielder now," Goodes said in Perth on Thursday.

"If it eventuates, I'll be happy to line up alongside him and try to keep up with him because he's young and he's fit and he's looking to jump up and take some grabs, which is good from a viewer's point of view but not so much if it's my head he's stepping on.

"He's only into his second year as a player and, as a midfielder, (he is) learning that you have to go both ways.

"So no doubt, if it's myself or another player that plays against him ... if we've got the footy, you want to try and make as much use of it as you can and try to hurt him the other way."

Goodes said the Swans would have to work hard to curb Naitanui's influence.

"If he's there to tackle, we're going to tackle him; if he's got space, we're going to look to close that space down - it's pretty simple from our point of view," Goodes said.

"We just have to try and make sure he doesn't get off to too much of a flyer.

"He starts the quarters inside for the bounce and really drives the boys, the Eagles, forward, so we've got to try and stop that as much as we can."

Sydney coach John Longmire was confident Shane Mumford and Jesse White would be able to hold their own against powerful West Coast ruck duo Dean Cox and Naitanui.

"We know that Naitanui and Cox are two quality ruckmen ... and the service they can give their midfielders on a plate makes it difficult," Longmire said.

"Shane Mumford is a good player for us. We are confident about his ability around the ruckwork and around the ground as well.

"Jesse White, who we had doing some ruckwork for us last week as really our second ruckman, is able to compete well and can also go forward."

Sydney made just one change to the side that beat Essendon by five points last week, replacing Brett Meredith with 19-year-old debutant Alex Johnson.

The undefeated Eagles made two changes, recalling defenders Sam Butler and Eric Mackenzie for Beau Waters (elbow) and Brad Sheppard (omitted).

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