NIC NAITANUI wants in-form sidekick Scott Lycett to stay at West Coast, believing their ruck combination can be a decisive factor in the Eagles' success.
Lycett is one of three key restricted free agents the Eagles hope to re-sign beyond this year, along with star intercept defender Jeremy McGovern and prolific midfielder Andrew Gaff.
A contract was reportedly tabled to the South Australian big man last week after his excellent start to 2018, and Naitanui has added his voice to those hoping Lycett will recommit.
"I just told him there's not much back in Adelaide for him and to stay at West Coast," Naitanui said.
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"He's playing good footy, he lives near the beach, he's loving it. He's out of contract at the end of this year, there's him and a host of some other big names as well, hopefully they stay around."
The Eagles are packing a powerful one-two ruck punch with Lycett in career-best touch coming back from a season ruined by shoulder issues.
West Coast leads the AFL for hit-outs and scores from clearances differential.
Crucially, both Eagles ruckmen also apply pressure at ground level and have had an impact forward in the club's run of seven straight wins.
Naitanui has been delighted with Lycett's form, which has allowed him to build his workload after a knee reconstruction and given West Coast a unique advantage in an era when many ruckmen are flying solo.
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"I think we've proven in the past it's worked. Myself and Coxy (Dean Cox) did it for six or seven years," he said.
"There's no reason to say why it can't work if we both have an impact in the middle, around the ground but also when we go forward and rest as well."
This Sunday, the West Coast duo will come up against Richmond bulldozer Toby Nankervis and Shaun Grigg, if he returns from a hamstring.
Although 190cm Grigg would give away 11cm and 13cm to Naitanui and Lycett, respectively, the Eagles have paid respect to the Tigers' makeshift ruck by studying video this week.
But teaming up to "work over" Nankervis is their main focus.
"If you have a fresh guy coming off the bench or the forward line wrestling and doing that for four quarters it's going to take its toll on someone like a Nankervis," Naitanui said.
McGovern (calf), Dom Sheed (foot) and Lewis Jetta (calf) are tipped to be available as the Eagles aim to claim top spot from Richmond.
Naitanui could boost his game minutes in the blockbuster, coming off a "blessing in disguise" suspension for a dangerous tackle.
"I've moved on from that. I was a little bit shocked, obviously, with the decision," he said.
"I'm still going to play the same way I normally play. I just have to get that technique aspect right for next time I do something similar."
Naitanui was speaking at a NAB AFL Auskick promotion at Optus Stadium, where it was announced budding WA footballers who sign up for Auskick before May 27 will receive two tickets to selected matches at the venue this season.
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