West Coast Eagles ruck Nic Naitanui the latest big-name AFL player in the mix for a WAFL return

Headshot of Jordan McArdle
Jordan McArdleThe West Australian
Nic Naitanui is the latest big name poised to return via the WAFL.
Camera IconNic Naitanui is the latest big name poised to return via the WAFL. Credit: Will Russell/AFL Photos

Superstar West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui is the latest big-name player in consideration for a WAFL injury return.

Naitanui is closing in on a comeback from a knee injury, and it could come as early as the WAFL Eagles’ Saturday evening clash against South Fremantle at Mineral Resources Park.

The 32-year-old has been making significant progress on the training track over the past week.

West Coast coach Adam Simpson said he was unsure whether Naitanui would return through the AFL or WAFL at this stage, but wasn’t far off either way.

“He’s not far off, it’ll be this week or next week,” Simpson said.

“We’ve got training today so we’ll see how that looks and we’ll make a decision whether he’ll play WAFL or go straight back into the side.

“We’ll see how he pulls up after training today.”

WAFL - Claremont Tigers vs West Coast Eagles at Claremont Oval. Pictured - Injured Eagle Nic Naitanui watches on
Camera IconThe towering ruckman watched on when West Coast’s WAFL side faced Claremont a fortnight ago. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

If he does return through the WAFL, he will follows in the footsteps of dual All-Australian Elliot Yeo and premiership heroes Willie Rioli, Dom Sheed and Liam Ryan to do so this season.

Fremantle have also followed suit with some of their biggest names including captain Nat Fyfe and spearhead Matt Taberner.

Naitanui hasn’t played since sustaining a medial ligament injury in West Coast’s last win over Collingwood at Marvel Stadium in round four.

The Eagles are on a club-record nine-game losing streak without their first-choice ruck.

Naitanui is no stranger to returning in the WAFL, having done so twice from ACL injuries in a pre-season match against East Fremantle in 2018 and again during a regular-season fixture against the same opponent the following year.

The first one was for East Perth during the old alignment and the second for the WAFL Eagles.

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