NIC NAITANUI hears the constant criticism about his lack of marks but he says he is more worried about his ruck work.
The West Coast star is a fascinating player in that his influence on games can be profound when fully fit, but his individual statistics often don't reflect his impact.
Naitanui has taken just six marks in seven games this season, ranking him equal 445th in the AFL. Four of those have been contested, placing him equal 102nd in the AFL behind Fremantle's Nat Fyfe (18). Fremantle's Aaron Sandilands and Zac Clarke are the leading ruckmen in the contested marking stakes, taking 15 and 14 respectively.
"I think the thing I hear the most is, 'when is Nic Nat going to take another mark?'" Naitanui said at an AFL Multicultural Gala Day in Perth on Monday.
"That's probably the biggest one. But, for myself, I play different to other ruckmen. So for me it's the follow-up stuff, the tackling, and hit-outs to advantage is something I really take pride in.
"As long as I give first use to boys like Matt Priddis, Luke Shuey, and Chris Masten, those sort of guys, I'm pretty happy that I'm contributing to the team."
Naitanui said he continued to work hard on his marking at training, while coach Adam Simpson has spoken often about his desire for Naitanui to get some cheaper possessions around the ground.
"It's just about being in a position to do it more times during a game than I am," Naitanui said.
"Hopefully spending a bit more time up forward can contribute to that and [I can] kick a few more goals.
"A lot of stuff is constructive. Things like that can only make you a better player. I'm not too fussed with it. I guess when you're winning and everyone's doing well, you just look to improve and keep doing the things you're doing. But you do take what you can on board."
Naitanui said the improvement from the Eagles' midfield group was a big reason behind the club's lofty position at second on the ladder after seven rounds.
"Our midfield has copped a bit over the last couple of years, I guess, size-wise and strength-wise," Naitanui said.
"But the last few games, I think the boys have really shown that they are playing some good footy. All the younger guys are also playing like men now.
"Dom Sheed is still pretty young, and is playing some good footy, along with guys like Shuey and Masten, who are just racking it up as well.
"A lot of those guys have improved over the years, but it is really starting to show now."