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Mackenzie back for Eagles as Suns leave guns at home

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AFL 2016 Portraits - West Coast Eagles
Eric Mackenzie has been named for his first game back since a serious ACL injury

WEST Coast defender Eric Mackenzie is set to return for his first game in more than 12 months in Thursday night's NAB Challenge clash with Gold Coast. 

Eagles star Nic Naitanui will also play against the Suns at Joondalup in Western Australia in his first appearance this year after sitting out the club's opening pre-season contest.

Mackenzie ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the NAB Challenge last season and missed all of the year as the Eagles progressed to the Grand Final. 

Although the Eagles managed to offset his absence (along with that of fellow defender Mitch Brown who also suffered a knee reconstruction) with a sturdy backline group, his return will add depth and experience to coach Adam Simpson's defensive unit.   

Brown returned in the first round of the NAB Challenge and has been named again to take on the Suns.

The additions of Mackenzie and Naitanui make for a substantially stronger West Coast squad after the Eagles lost their first NAB Challenge game to Adelaide by 100 points last month.

Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis and Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy have also been named in the 29-man squad after sitting out the opening round.

The Suns will again be without skipper Gary Ablett as he nurses a foot injury, with Jarrod Harbrow taking on captaincy duties.

 

Ablett is one of a number of first-choice midfielders unavailable for the Suns, with David Swallow, Jaeger O'Meara and Dion Prestia all missing.

West Coast v Gold Coast, Thursday 3 March, 4.10pm AWST at HBF Arena, Joondalup (WA)

WEST COAST
1. Mitch Brown, 2. Mark LeCras, 3. Andrew Gaff, 5. Brad Sheppard, 6. Elliot Yeo, 9. Nic Naitanui, 11. Matt Priddis, 14. Liam Duggan, 15. Jamie Cripps, 16. Eric Mackenzie, 17. Josh J. Kennedy, 18. Xavier Ellis, 20. Jeremy McGovern, 22. Jonathan Giles, 23. Lewis Jetta, 24. Luke Partington, 25. Shannon Hurn, 26. Sam Butler, 27. Jack Darling, 28. Tom Cole, 29. Scott Lycett, 30. Jackson Nelson, 31. Will Schofield, 33. Josh Hill 35. Patrick McGinnity, 36. Fraser McInnes, 37. Tom Barrass, 39. Malcolm Karpany, 44. Jamie Bennell

Notable absentees: Chris Masten, Jack Redden, Sharrod Wellingham, Luke Shuey 

GOLD COAST
4. Jack Martin, 5. Jarrod Harbrow, 6. Alex Sexton, 8. Luke Russell, 11. Touk Miller, 12. Sam Day, 13. Callum Ah Chee, 14. Mitch Hallahan, 15. Dan Currie, 18. Trent McKenzie, 20. Henry Schade, 21. Jack Leslie, 23. Sean Lemmens, 26. Matt Shaw, 27. Clay Cameron, 29. Brayden Fiorini, 30. Peter Wright, 31. Keegan Brooksby, 32. Brandon Matera, 33. Aaron Hall, 34. Mackenzie Willis, 36. Josh Schoenfeld, 37. Jesse Lonergan, 39. Ryan Davis, 40. Tom Keough, 41. Jarrod Garlett, 42. Adam Saad, 44. Darcy Macpherson, 48. Seb Tape

Notable absentees: Tom Lynch, Dion Prestia, Gary Ablett, Jaeger O'Meara