Watch West Coast coach John Worsfold's post-match press conference
As much as we haven't been playing our best football, we haven't been far off it
NOT ALL news was good news for West Coast at the MCG on Saturday, with a pre-game calf injury to Beau Waters adding to the news that ruckman Nic Naitanui will be out for four to six weeks after suffering a further setback to his persistent groin injury.
Naitanui is yet to return to full training and will require three weeks on the track before the Eagles consider him for selection.
Assistant coach John Longmuir said the Eagles would be cautious with the high-flying 22-year-old.
“He did have a minor setback a couple of weeks ago where he just pulled up sore after a training session.
“Once he starts full training we’ll probably give him three (more) weeks."
But Longmuir said it was unknown when the 2012 All-Australian would return to the training track in a full capacity.
“Our fingers are crossed he’ll be back sooner rather than later,” he said.
While the Eagles are certainly missing Naitanui’s effervescent presence, coach John Worsfold believes that the side was just a fraction away from playing its best football in the first two rounds.
Two losses, to Fremantle by 28 points and Hawthorn by 50 points, though, did not really give an accurate portrayal of that line of thinking.
So it took the 94-point belting of Melbourne for the Eagles to find their groove and prove they are the side that everyone thought they might be.
"As much as we haven't been playing our best football over the last couple of weeks, we haven't been far off it," Worsfold said.
The Eagles were scratchy early in the game, taking just a 10-point lead in to half-time and trailing Melbourne in contested possessions and overall disposals.
But an 11-goal to one third quarter busted the game open in a spurt of what Worsfold might, rightly, call the Eagles' best football.
West Coast's use of the ball heading inside 50 had not been the problem in the first two rounds, but the low number of entries had been something that Worsfold and his players needed to address.
"Being efficient going inside 50 hasn't been an issue for us, it's been about getting it in there enough," Worsfold said.
"There's been a couple of areas that we fell away in when we weren't playing our best footy, and the guys started to get back to that mindset and they were good today."
Worsfold said the intent of his players was there and an elevated mentality was needed as the season progressed.
"Our attack on the footy has been pretty good but we haven't matched it with the teams we've played, and we knew we hadn't been as clean as we could be," Worsfold said.
"We've worked on that, certainly our attack on the footy was still pretty ferocious at the contest and I think we addressed some of the areas that we had talked about as a group"
One good piece of injury news came out of the day though, with Worsfold expecting key defender Eric Mackenzie to return for the game against the Blues at Patersons Stadium next Saturday.
Ben Guthrie is a reporter for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter- @AFL_BenGuthrie