Nic Naitanui celebrates a goal during the round three clash between West Coast and Fremantle at Optus Stadium on April 3, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

CHAMPION West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui has announced his retirement, with the game-changing big man accepting that a serious Achilles tendon injury was likely to strip him of his greatest physical assets.

Naitanui, who was central to the Eagles' period of success through his ability to dominate games from the centre square, said there were no guarantees he would be able to play again after recent Achilles surgery.

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The 33-year-old's departure is the third in as many weeks for West Coast after premiership captain Shannon Hurn and Norm Smith medallist Luke Shuey each announced they would retire at the end of the season.

Naitanui was contracted for 2024 but did not play at all this season due to his Achilles injury and managed just eight games in 2022 because of knee injuries.


"I feel like I have exhausted every avenue to work my way through my injury, but my body is sending a strong message that it is time," Naitanui said.

"You never want this day to come, but it always does and I’m content in the knowledge that I have given it everything.

"Being a power athlete who has relied on my ability to jump throughout my career this injury was probably going to take that away from me.

"I am also looking at a lengthy rehabilitation from my latest surgery and there are no guarantees of making it back to AFL level even if everything goes to plan."

Naitanui said he had given his future a lot of thought over recent weeks and concluded that retirement was the best decision for the club as well as the dual club champion and his family.


The three-time All-Australian will speak to the media at 3:45pm AWST on Monday.

"Nic has been a legacy player for our football club and has been one of the most influential players of his generation," coach Adam Simpson said.

"In some respects it is the end of an era and we will certainly miss Nic. In the last couple of years when he has been limited in the amount of games he has played his impact around the group has remained significant.

"There have been few ruckmen in history to have a bigger impact on the game and he will always hold a special place in the history of the club."


Naitanui's role as a marketing powerhouse for his club and a multicultural ambassador for the game was praised by chief executive Trevor Nisbett.

The powerful ruckman was close to unstoppable in his prime with his ability to leap over opponents, deftly palm the ball down to his midfielders, and follow-up at ground level.

Recruited with pick No.2 in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft, he provided countless highlights for football fans from the outset, dancing around Hawthorn opponents on the goal line to kick his first goal in 2009.


In round eight, 2013, he took a soaring pack mark against North Melbourne at Subiaco Oval and kicked the match-winning goal after the siren to spark wild celebrations with the crowd.

His adoring supporters will also reminisce about his incredible goal out of a boundary throw-in against Greater Western Sydney in 2016, winning that match with two seconds to play.

The fan favourite has long been the most famous and recognisable person in his hometown of Perth, accepting the responsibilities that come with his position and remaining grateful for the attention and love he received.

Nic Naitanui and Andrew Gaff after West Coast's 2018 Grand Final win over Collingwood. Picture: AFL Photos

He was the heartbreak story of the 2018 premiership, missing the flag after undergoing his second knee reconstruction in three seasons.

He remained driven to achieve team success thereafter but also found purpose in helping develop the Eagles' next generation, with ruckman Bailey Williams benefiting from his tutelage this season.