West Coast big man Nic Naitanui says he’s being unfairly impeded by rival ruckmen, but hopes he will soon be given greater protection by AFL umpires.
A fortnight ago, Sydney duo Shane Mumford and Mike Pyke stifled Naitanui’s run and jump at centre bounces by continually going past the ball to crash into the young Eagle.
Other ruckmen have also tried to physically monster Naitanui in a bid to halt his dominance and the 22-year-old is expecting another similar display when he fronts up against Brisbane’s Ben Hudson at Patersons Stadium on Sunday.
Naitanui has pleaded with umpires to penalise the illegal tactics of rival ruckmen, and hopes the infringements will become even more noticeable in the future.
“When it does happen I’m the first one to go up to the umps,” Naitanui said on Monday.
“It’s one of their tactics to try and stop my jump. Especially in the middle, they’ll cross the line.
“But you can only tell the umpires so much.
“At the end of the day they make the decision. And if they think it’s fair, it’s fair, so you’ve just got to carry on with the game.”
Although some of the tactics used against Naitanui might be slightly illegal, the 201cm ruckman said it was no excuse for the way West Coast’s midfield had been beaten by Sydney and Adelaide over the past fortnight.
“Myself and (Dean) Cox have been pretty filthy with what’s been happening around the ground and in the middle as well,” Naitanui said.
The fifth-placed Eagles are now one game adrift of fourth spot, but the return of on-baller Luke Shuey from his two-week suspension will give the midfield a vital boost against Brisbane.