WEST Coast is motivated to shape the eight in the run to the finals and be a hurdle for the main contenders after getting its core of senior players back, according to returning star Nic Naitanui.

After one hit-out in the WAFL, Naitanui is locked in to play his first match since round four against Richmond at the MCG on Sunday, returning from a medial ligament injury.

The 32-year-old joins a host of senior players, including stars Elliot Yeo, Liam Ryan and Willie Rioli, who have recently returned, making the Eagles a dangerous prospect in the run home.

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"A lot of pride comes into it, and we want to win as many games as we can in the back end of the year," Naitanui said on Tuesday. 

"If that means making sure other teams can't make finals, or it hinders their chance of getting a double chance and finishing top- four, then we're going to go out there and do it.

"We've got a lot of senior guys in the team now and we've got a lot of guys back from injury, so we've got that solid structure of players who we've missed for the majority of the year."

An injured Nic Naitanui after West Coast's win over Collingwood in round four, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Still fresh in the Eagles' minds is Richmond's 109-point win from round seven in what remains their largest defeat at Optus Stadium and their second heaviest defeat on home soil.

There will be significant turnover in the 22 the Eagles field on Sunday, compared to with that round seven side, with the team also enjoying a hit of positivity this week after their breakthrough win against Essendon.

"That's in the back of the boys' minds still. They beat us pretty convincingly here at home," Naitanui said.

"It's a whole new team though. That team that ran out against Richmond, a lot of the boys hadn't played in that game that are going to play this weekend.

"In saying that, we know they're going really well and they do start playing a lot of their best footy this time of year leading into finals. It's a tough challenge going over there to get a win at the 'G."

West Coast players after the loss to Richmond in round seven on April 29, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Naitanui expected one match at WAFL level on managed minutes would be enough to prepare him to be at his best against the Tigers, with support likely from one of Bailey Williams or Callum Jamieson.  

"The process we've been through the last few weeks has put me in good stead to play my normal minutes in the AFL," he said.

"I'm hoping this weekend I'll get back to my best. The WAFL was that trial and the training I've put forward was to get back to that.

"I don't ever go out there playing half-arsed at AFL level. For me it's 'go, go, go' as soon as I get out there.

"I never really play at 50 or 60 per cent. I always make sure it's 100 per cent before you get back out there."

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While Naitanui expects to sign a one-year contract to play on next year when the time is right, young Melbourne star Luke Jackson is out of contract and being linked to a return to WA at the end of the season.

Naitanui said he would love to see Jackson at the Eagles but sympathised with the decision facing the premiership ruckman.

Luke Jackson wins a ruck contest against Nic Naitanui during the round 21 match between West Coast and Melbourne at Optus Stadium on August 9, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

"I spent a bit of time with him when he was here (in Perth), and I’d love to have him here at West Coast, I’m sure any team would love to have him," Naitanui said.

"He got a flag before I did. He does keep in contact with texts every now and then.

"It’s been enjoyable watching him play his footy and thrive, and under Max Gawn he’s got a good tutor there as well.

"Wherever he decides to go, he’s going to have an amazing career."