West Coast will be aiming to bounce back from last week’s 75-point loss to Geelong when they take on Port Adelaide at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night.
West Coast’s worst fears have been allayed, with star ruckman Nic Naitanui cleared of any damage to his achilles tendon.
Naitanui was sent off for scans after copping a knock to the back of his lower leg in last week’s 75-point hammering at the hands of AFL powerhouse Geelong.
The 23-year-old was sore both during and after the game, but subsequent scans showed he had not damaged his achilles tendon, freeing him to play in Saturday night’s clash with Port Adelaide at Patersons Stadium.
During the week, Brownlow medallist Brad Hardie suggested West Coast should either rest or drop Naitanui following his quiet start to the year.
Naitanui has been plagued by groin issues for the past two years, and Eagles coach Adam Simpson urged fans to be patient while the 2012 All-Australian builds up his form and fitness.
“Everyone is different,” Simpson said.
“The type of player he is – such a power athlete – to have confidence in your body is the first step and he’s still getting that.
“We’ll back him in. We’ll see how he goes tomorrow and we expect there’ll be an improvement.”
For the first time this season, Simpson has named just two specialist ruckmen, with Scott Lycett the one to miss out.
Simpson revealed he had considered resting Naitanui this week, and it could still be a possibility with ruck duo Callum Sinclair and Lycett named as emergencies.
“Obviously we’re still trying to manage Nic, but we feel with where he’s at we can get away with the two rucks,” Simpson said.
Port Adelaide (3-1) are brimming with confidence following last week’s 113-point demolition of Brisbane.
The Power have been boosted by the return of Chad Wingard, while West Coast welcome back skipper Darren Glass, midfielder Luke Shuey, wingman Matt Rosa, on-baller Chris Masten and Mark Hutchings.
West Coast failed to kick a goal after quarter-time against the Cats, and Simpson has urged his players to lift their intensity in order to come out on top in the vital contested possession battle.
And with debate raging as to whether the AFL should introduce Good Friday football, Simpson put forward one idea.
“I reckon a West Coast – North Melbourne Good Friday game would be good over here,” the former Kangaroos skipper said with a smile.