STAR ruckman Nic Naitanui is setting his sights on returning before West Coast's mid-season bye, potentially as soon as round 10, after a smooth rehabilitation from his second knee reconstruction.
The 28-year-old also revealed he is realistic enough to take a pay cut when he negotiates to extend his multimillion-dollar, five-year contract beyond this season.
After a cautious approach following his first ACL rupture on his left knee, which kept him sidelined for 19 months, Naitanui has attacked his latest rehab on his 'good' right knee with confidence.
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The Eagles have the bye in round 13 and, depending how his body responds, Naitanui is aiming to be back before then.
"Having that prior knowledge from doing my knee last time, I've probably been able to speed it up a little bit more," Naitanui said.
"It's progressing really well. I'm back running and kicking the footy. Pretty pleased with it so far.
"Last time I was on crutches for six to eight weeks longer than what I was this time, so I was able to get moving and do some strength stuff through my legs in particular.
"Just checking my numbers a bit earlier on today, going a bit stronger through my legs than I did last time.
"I had a bit of bone stuff going on in my knee (last time) as well, which I had a little bit of this time but not to the same extent.
"But also, I guess playing the way I do we weren't sure (the first time) what was the right process."
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Naitanui tore his ACL the second time after a seemingly innocuous landing after contesting a throw-in against Collingwood in round 17 at the MCG.
The 201cm, 110kg big man has since spent time working out on a sprung floor at the Ninja Academy to improve his landing technique.
Naitanui also travelled to the USA over his Christmas break to work out at UCLA and meet with NFL sports science gurus, before spending New Year's Eve with NBA superstar LeBron James and Ben Simmons.
The big-name Eagle enjoyed the chance to refresh and has returned confident his latest setback wouldn't impact his freakish athleticism or haunt him mentally.
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"The mental challenge of playing, or jumping and landing, doesn't really affect me, it's probably the rehab stuff, 6am this morning at Jacob's Ladder [outdoor stairs near Kings Park], that's the stuff that hurts," Naitanui said.
"I thought I might lose a bit of that (athleticism), but I'm jumping off both legs pretty comfortably at the moment, so I'm pretty confident I can keep doing it.
"But also, last time doing my knee I've also been able to adapt my game and change a few things.
"Not being able to jump, I had a good conversation with some guys, and I think 'Polly' Farmer did it a while ago where he did his knee.
"He used to jump a fair bit and then he learned to use his body in that manner. I was able to learn some of those tips with some of the ruck stuff last year."
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Naitanui admitted watching his teammates' Grand Final triumph with mixed emotions, but has taken solace in the fact he and fellow hard luck stories Andrew Gaff and Brad Sheppard still have the chance to push for success.
"I think the biggest thing that helped me be content with the circumstances I've been dealt with is seeing guys like Eric Mackenzie who don't get the opportunity to play in one again, where I have that hope," he said.
Exactly how long Naitanui can extend his 161-game career will be a significant talking point in coming seasons, and there will be plenty of interest in the length of his next contract.
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He and manager Paul Connors have engaged in minor discussions on a new deal and Naitanui, who accepts there will likely be performance-based clauses inserted, is keen to sign as soon as possible.
"I'm not sure what date that will be but I'm not one to hold the club to ransom," he said.
"This club has looked after me since day one, and they're not going to do me wrong.
"I'm a realistic person with knowing I've got two compromised knees now.
"We've got a lot of senior guys in the team now, a lot of premiership players as well, so to keep that core group of players a lot of us will (have to take pay cuts).
"Whatever they put forward I'll be happy with."