WEST Coast star Nic Naitanui has put Christmas celebrations on hold, travelling to the United States in an attempt to fast-track his recovery from a second knee reconstruction.
As Eagles teammates enjoy a three-week holiday break, Naitanui has based himself in Los Angeles, training at world-class facilities just five months after his latest injury.
The 28-year-old has enjoyed stints training at the Los Angeles Chargers NFL gym, California State and UCLA universities and the luxury Equinox fitness club.
Having progressed to ball work and straight-line running prior to his departure to the US, Naitanui has continued to increase his loads in recent weeks.
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Naitanui ruptured his right ACL in round 17 this year, just 15 matches into his comeback from his left knee ACL tear sustained in round 22, 2016, an injury that sidelined him for all of 2017.
Merry Christmas (USA eve) from Cal State ❤️ pic.twitter.com/XLCZO5MLCC— Nic Naitanui (@NicNat) December 24, 2018
While the Eagles are confident he will feature in the back half of 2019, around 12 months following his latest setback, the club will ensure caution given his 201cm, 110kg frame.
Naitanui travelled to Philadelphia during his last rehab period in July 2017, spending time under the watchful eye of renowned knee specialist Bill Knowles.
While Naitanui was put through more explosive exercises during his last trip, it came 11 months into his recovery.
Despite moving to full training ahead of the 2017 finals campaign, Naitanui was overlooked for a return as the Eagles bowed out in the semi-final.
The Eagles have provided extra back-up for Naitanui ahead of the 2019 season, recruiting St Kilda ruckman Tom Hickey and former Gold Coast big man Keegan Brooksby.
Nathan Vardy's premiership ruck partner Scott Lycett has departed for Port Adelaide on a five-year deal, the Eagles drafting ruck prospect Bailey Williams (198cm) and retaining rookie Fraser McInnes.
Another key decision for the Eagles next year will centre on the value of Naitanui's latest contract extension, with the 201cm star's current deal set to expire at the end of 2019.