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I'm not soft, says defiant Eagle Naitanui

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WEST Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui insists he won't get dragged down by the critics who said he didn't go in hard enough during last week's loss to Essendon.

Brisbane great Jonathan Brown and former St Kilda forward Nick Riewoldt both criticised Naitanui for failing to throw his weight around during the first half of the 28-point loss to Essendon.

Brown, speaking on Fox Footy at half-time of Thursday's game, said West Coast players in general didn't show enough physicality.

And he said Naitanui – the biggest and most intimidating player on the ground – should have shown more leadership by crashing packs attempting to mark.

Riewoldt agreed.

"It's been a knock on Nic Nat for a long time – he averages less than two marks a game," Riewoldt said.

"He might take mark of the year once in a while, but it's not always on your terms. Sometimes you just have to crash the pack."

But Naitanui disagreed with the criticism, saying he enjoys the physical aspect of the game.

"I feel like I do throw my weight around," Naitanui said.

"When you're doing really well, everyone's on your side. But when you're not doing too well, everyone jumps on you straight away.

"It's not like we're sitting on bottom of the ladder playing terrible football. We have obviously got a lot to work on, but that's just part of it.

"That's just all outside noise. We know what we're doing internally."

 

Naitanui has generally received widespread praise for the toughness he has shown this season.

And he even copped a one-match suspension in round seven for a bone-crunching tackle on Port's Karl Amon.

Naitanui said he had copped some friendly flak from teammates after going to ground from a soft hit to the chest from Essendon ruckman Tom Bellchambers last Thursday.

Bellchambers was fined $2000 over the incident.

"He just got me in a good spot," Naitanui said.

"We practise it at training – pushing guys off on the chest. But he got me sweet and winded me.

"It's all part of the game. The physical part of the game is something I really enjoy."

West Coast has slipped to third spot following two straight losses, and they'll be aiming to bounce back against the struggling Crows at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

Eagles forward Mark LeCras is in doubt for the game with an injured wrist, while Josh Kennedy (leg) is facing an uphill battle to prove his fitness in time.