WEST Coast star Nic Naitanui appears on track for an uplifting finals return after breezing through skills training for the first time in public view since his syndesmosis setback.
All eyes were on the 201cm big man on Tuesday when he unexpectedly joined his teammates for an hour-long open session, interspersed with individual running and agility work under the watchful eye of club medicos.
Naitanui took part in the warm-up and kicked off both feet before completing at least a dozen 100m runs at about 70 per cent pace.
He then joined in as squad members rotated between three stations of ball movement work and moved sideways with ease, 32 days after suffering a season-threatening right ankle injury in the one-point loss to Collingwood.
During the final drill, Naitanui was stationed as the deepest forward in full-ground work and led and marked strongly inside 50 before taking shots at goal from about 40m.
With more than three weeks until the opening finals round, the 29-year-old looks a strong chance to return provided there are no setbacks in his rehabilitation.
More promising ... pic.twitter.com/1xuBpNCNot— Travis King (@TravisKing) August 13, 2019
West Coast coach Adam Simpson has declared the marquee big man won't be available before the post-season.
If fit, it would be the first time Naitanui takes part in a finals campaign since the Eagles fell short in the 2015 season decider, following two knee reconstructions.
His comeback would be a welcome boost for the reigning premiers' back-to-back flag bid, albeit presenting challenges to a 22 which has won the past four games with lead ruck Tom Hickey supported by pinch-hitter Oscar Allen.
In further promising news, reliable defender Liam Duggan trained fully on Tuesday at Mineral Resources Park and will make his second attempted comeback from a syndesmosis complaint in the WAFL on Friday night.
Duggan could be back against Hawthorn in round 23, tightening the selection squeeze for a squad which might only have Jarrod Brander (hamstring), Josh Smith (hamstring), Daniel Venables (concussion), Brodie Riach (Leg) and Naitanui unavailable this weekend.