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Time running out for Naitanui

Mark Macgugan  March 4, 2013 5:45 PM

Naitanui and Saad running out of time Nic Naitanui and Ahmed Saad both have their problems ahead of round one
AFL 2013 Media - Flying Boomerangs Training 240113

Nic Naitanui is yet to determine whether he will return from a groin injury in round one

TIME IS running out for West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui to be fit for round one, with the athletic 22-year-old still not back in full training just 19 days out from the club's season-opening clash with Fremantle.

Naitanui had groin surgery in November, and has been gradually re-building his workload.

Visiting Melbourne in his role as an Australia Post AFL multicultural ambassador on Monday, Naitanui said he still hoped to take on Fremantle, but wouldn't take any risks.

"Fingers crossed," Naitanui said.

"I'm aiming for round one, but I'll see how my body pulls up in the next week or so and then make the decision whether it's later or round one."

Naitanui said he had progressed to running, kicking and some ruck practice, but revealed he didn't know exactly when he would re-join full training.

Not helping his cause is that the clash is one of only two games scheduled for the March 23 weekend, with all other opening round matches to be played a week later.

"I'm back running, and I've been doing some controlled skills, kicking the footy and that again," Naitanui said.

"Maybe in the next week leading into round one I'll start doing some full training and a bit of contact stuff.

"But it all goes on how I'm feeling and how I pull up after each session.

"I don't want to be making any promises.

"I think everyone's goal is round one, but if it's sore I'll be smart about it and make sure it's not sore towards the end of the season."

Naitanui is one of 11 multicultural ambassadors, with Greater Western Sydney big man Setanta O'hAilpin and Port Adelaide defender Alipate Carlile joining the program for 2013.

The group, which also includes Leigh Montagna, Bachar Houli, Joel Wilkinson, David Rodan, Harry O'Brien, Karmichael Hunt, Majak Daw and Ahmed Saad, met with AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou at AFL House on Monday afternoon.

Nic Naitanui is a forward/ruckman in AFL Fantasy. He averaged 86 points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy hub.