Main content

Nic Nat set to attack as rotations cap forces change

Nic Naitanui expects to spend more time up forward in 2016 - ${keywords}
Nic Naitanui expects to spend more time up forward in 2016
It's better for the players and better for the spectators. So we really look forward to it
Nic Naitanui

NIC NAITANUI is preparing to spend more time forward this season as the new interchange cap looks set to force more players to rest on the ground.

West Coast's star ruckman averaged only 75.4 per cent of game time across his 23 matches last season.

It was the lowest amount of game time among ruckmen ranked in the top 20 for hitouts in 2015.

But with the interchange cap being reduced from 120 rotations to 90 this season, Naitanui said he would be forced to rest forward more often, rather than on the bench.

"Obviously [with rotations] being cut by so much, we'll have to play a fair majority of the game on the field," he said.

"Just being able to have your rest up forward rather than on the bench, it's better for the players and better for the spectators. So we really look forward to it."

Click here for Eagles' Fantasy prices and positions

Naitanui kicked 17 goals last season, the most of any of the top-10 hit-out ruckmen in the competition. He also took 23 contested marks last year, the fifth-most at West Coast and fourth-most among the league's best tap ruckmen.

Naitanui said he had spent large portions of this pre-season working on his marking and goalkicking in preparation for the season ahead.

"(My) marking has been spoken about a bit," Naitanui said.

"I guess taking mark of the year helps a little bit with that as well, with some of the critics. It's always something I've worked on.

"My goalkicking, with the limited rotations this year, going forward and having that ability to kick more goals will be another focus area."

Naitanui worked hard on his set shots at the end of the Eagles' 90-minute training session on Wednesday at Domain Stadium. It was a solid session based primarily around skills and ball movement as the temperature soared into the high-30s.

The Eagles' squad is in excellent shape heading into the NAB Challenge. 

Naitanui is fully fit and raring to go despite being managed at different times during the pre-season due to a bit of ongoing back tightness.

Jack Redden (adductor) and Dom Sheed (knee) participated in the first half the session before doing some running in the second half. Both men look on track to be available for the third week of the NAB Challenge.

Young key defender Tom Barrass was also on restricted duties on Wednesday but he did a power of running away from the main group and appeared to moving well.

Eric Mackenzie and Mitch Brown look in outstanding shape nearly 12 months on from their respective knee reconstructions.

Eagles coach Adam Simpson said earlier this week he was planning to rest some of his senior players from the first NAB Challenge game in Adelaide against the Crows on February 21.

But he said most of his squad would play a minimum of two matches in preparation for round one.