West Coast’s Nic Naitanui is confident a recent foot injury hasn’t robbed him of his explosive leap, and the ruckman predicts he could be back in AFL ranks by as early as round 19.
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 duties on Tuesday, and he’ll build up over the coming weeks with the aim of being back by round 19 or 20.
Naitanui possesses the best leap in the competition, and he says it’s an asset that won’t be affected despite not having a plantaris tendon anymore.
“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 said his recovery had gone to plan.
“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 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 will receive a stern test when they take on North Melbourne at Domain Stadium on Sunday.
Naitanui, who is of Fijian heritage, helped launch the AFL’s multicultural round on Wednesday.