Naitanui on track for round-19 AFL return

Naitanui on track for round-19 AFL return

He’s lost his two plantaris tendons, but West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui is adamant he’ll have lost none of his explosive leap later this season when he makes his AFL return.

Naitanui had the plantaris tendon in both feet removed last month in a bid to ease achilles tendon soreness.

The 2012 All Australian resumed running on Tuesday and would build up in coming weeks with the aim of being back by round 19 or 20.

Naitanui possesses the best leap in the competition and says it’s an asset that won’t be affected despite his surgery.

“The tendon that they did remove, doesn’t really play a particular role in your body,” Naitanui said on Wednesday.

“I’m not really concerned. It’s just more of a confidence thing with my body and being back out there.

“I’m pretty comfortable that I’ll be right in the next few weeks.

“I think I’ll be pain-free for the remainder of the year that I come back for.”

Naitanui revealed he required mid-week painkilling injections earlier this season to be able to play.

He was so sore after some games, he was forced onto crutches.

“That plantaris tendon that was taken out on either side was getting pretty angry and inflamed,” Naitanui said.

“When that got more swollen, it was rubbing against my achilles tendon and making me pretty sore.”

Naitanui has been a frustrated onlooker for the past two games since undergoing surgery but says his recovery has been going well.

“Obviously, you guys saw me on that silly little bike-scooter thing the other day. It’s always good fun to get on that when there’s a crowd around,” he said.

“I started running again yesterday. Only slowly, but it’s forward steps from being in a wheelchair only a couple of weeks ago.

“I’m feeling pretty good and pretty confident in my body at the moment.

“I couldn’t put a definite date on it, but we’re looking around round 19, round 20, to make that return.”

West Coast’s top-four hopes go on the line on Sunday when they take on North Melbourne at Domain Stadium.

In the absence of Naitanui, the Eagles face a major test to halt the influence of the Kangaroos’ All-Australian ruckman Todd Goldstein.

Naitanui helped launch the AFL’s multicultural round on Wednesday.

The Eagles will wear special warm-up guernseys this week featuring a design inspired by Naitanui’s Fijian heritage.

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
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