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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Nic Naitanui to return through WAFL for West Coast Eagles as club resists rushing AFL return

West Coast star Nic Naitanui will not make his AFL return this weekend after the Eagles opted not to risk the ruckman against Essendon on Friday night.

Naitanui will instead be named in the Eagles WAFL side to face South Fremantle at Mineral Resources Park on Saturday night.

Premiership hero Dom Sheed, who played his first game for the season against Geelong last week, has been ruled out with a hot spot in his foot, joining Jeremy McGovern (ribs) on the sidelines.

Defender Josh Rotham has earned a senior call-up in McGovern’s absence, while midfielder Tim Kelly and forward Liam Ryan come into the 22 after recovering from illness.

Jackson Nelson and Greg Clark (medical sub) are the other omissions from the side that lost to the Cats by 18 points.

Clark, Alex Witherden, Luke Foley and Harry Edwards have been named as emergencies, with one to act as medical sub for the Eagles.

Meanwhile, Essendon midfielder Darcy Parish will spend a second week sidelined with a corked calf, joined by Andy McGrath (adductor), Brayden Ham (omitted), Andrew Phillips (rested) and James Stewart (medical sub).

Nic Naitanui to return through WAFL for West Coast Eagles as club resists rushing AFL return
Camera IconNic Naitanui at training this week. Credit: Danella Bevis/The West Australian

Will Snelling and Kyle Langford will return to the 22, while developing ruckman Nick Bryan will act as Sam Draper’s apprentice against West Coast duo Bailey Williams and Callum Jamieson.

The state league route for Naitanui allows the club more flexibility with Naitanui’s minutes on return from a knee injury that has sidelined him since round four.

The 32-year-old has played one game for the club’s reserves side, against East Fremantle in round 11, 2019.

EAGLES TEAM

B: S Hurn, T Barrass, L Duggan

HB: J Jones, J Rotham, E Yeo

C: C West, T Kelly, J Redden

HF: J Cripps, J Darling, W Rioli

F: L Ryan, J Kennedy, J Waterman

R: B Williams, L Shuey, A Gaff

IC: R Bazzo, B Hough, J Petruccelle, C Jamieson

EMG: L Foley, G Clark, A Witherden, H Edwards

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