West Coast AFL coach Adam Simpson will welcome back ruckman Nic Naitanui this week against Brisbane while also blooding a host of new faces.
West Coast AFL coach Adam Simpson has Nic Naitanui returning and will blood fresh faces on Saturday night in Brisbane.
West Coast’s finals chances are over following their loss to Sydney and, with Josh Kennedy, Matt Rosa, Scott Selwood and Elliot Yeo sidelined, Simpson wants to find out more about his playing list against the Lions.
Naitanui was a late withdrawal from the Sydney loss with a sore body – and coming off a kickless, markless game the previous week against Fremantle.
However, Simpson was happy with his form before that and will back him unless his body continues to struggle, meaning he might need to shut down for the rest of 2014.
“He had a month there of dominance when he was the best ruckman in the competition through performance and his numbers. He was a bit off against St Kilda and he looked like he needed a break against Freo, so we gave him one.
“We think him having a rest is going to make him perform better. We don’t want to get him to the end of the year and him needing another operation so we need to assess that. But it’s not at that level.”
There are plenty of change at West Coast, with Rosa, Kennedy, Sharrod Wellingham, Brad Sheppard and Jamie Cripps confirmed outs.
Defender Blayne Wilson gets his first chance since round 23 last year, while Ashley Smith plays his first game of 2014 taking over as half-forward from Cripps. Dom Sheed and Simon Tunbridge also receive another opportunity.
“We are going with a pretty young side and see what a couple of young guys can do who have been playing at East Perth. We are excited with what we might see this week … albeit we haven’t got a heap of depth in our midfield at the moment with the injuries we’ve got.”
Hawthorn premiership player Xavier Ellis will reach his 100th AFL game in his first season with the Eagles after a horror run with injuries since starring in the Hawks’ 2008 premiership win.
“It’s a credit to him to get back from what he’s gone through with his preparation and I don’t think we have seen the best of Ellis yet – so I look forward to the next 100,” Simpson said.
“For a guy who has played four games in three years – to come over here and manage his body, fit into the club the way he has and play consistent football for the most part of the year – it is a credit to him.”