Eagles explain Naitanui selection call

Nic Naitanui will make his football return in Round 15, but in won’t be through the AFL.

Naitanui has been sidelined with a medial ligament injury since Round 4, but has now overcome the injury.

There was speculation the 32-year-old could be brought straight back into the senior side to face Essendon on Friday evening, but Adam Simpson has resisted the temptation.

Simpson joined SEN WA’s The Run Home to confirm Naitanui would play just the second WAFL game for the Eagles reserves of his career.

“Nah, not really (was he close to selection),” Simpson said.

“He’s going to play some minutes on Saturday night, (but) he won’t play a lot.

“It’s just part of his rebuild, he’s been out for a significant amount of time and it’d be too much of a risk to throw him straight into a game on Friday night.

“The question was do we keep training him or get him to play a little bit of WAFL football, and it’s worked pretty well for us to get him out on the ground for a run-around, so he’ll do that on Saturday night at Mineral Resources Park (against South Fremantle).”

Naitanui played three games earlier in 2022, averaging 29.7 hitouts and 5.3 clearances per game.

Simpson also confirmed that Jeremy McGovern was “a bit worse than (he) thought”, saying there was no timeline on his return but suggesting his recovery would be more long-term after breaking his ribs against Geelong.

West Coast has made four changes for Friday night’s clash with the Bombers, naming Josh Rotham, Tim Kelly and Liam Ryan to replace Dom Sheed (injured), Greg Clark (Medi-Sub), Jackon Nelson (Omitted) and McGovern.

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