WEST Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui has ruled himself out of the NAB Cup as he recovers from groin surgery and says he doesn't have a timeline for his playing return.  

The All Australian big man has recently ramped up his running program and started doing skills work following groin surgery in November.

However, with the Eagles' opening NAB Cup matches just eight days away, Naitanui said it would be unrealistic to aim for any pre-season action ahead of the round one derby against Fremantle on March 23.

"I'm back running again now and just eyeing off the early part of the year … no date as of yet," Naitanui said from West Coast's community camp in Northam on Friday.  

"I' won't be ready for NAB Cup. I'm just running and starting my skill work at the moment, so it'd be unrealistic and I'd be lying if I said I was going to play NAB Cup.

"But I'm looking forward to the season proper. I go week-by-week and where I'm at with the physios."

Naitanui said he would continue aiming to be available for West Coast's season opener against Fremantle, but if that wasn't possible he would reassess.

The Eagles have a two-week break between the derby and their round-two clash against Hawthorn, giving the young star an extra window to complete his preparations.  

"If worst comes to worst and I do miss round one we do have that extra break," he said.  

"I think we've got the Hawks after that so that's another big game to aim for."

He said the pre-season competition would be an ideal chance to give game time to the club's young talls following the departure of forward Quinten Lynch to Collingwood.

"There's a lot of young guys coming through like Scott Lycett and Cal Sinclair who can fill the void," he said. "It'll be interesting to see how they go in the NAB Cup."

Nathan Schmook is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Nathan