West Coast coach Adam Simpson is adamant Nic Naitanui’s injury isn’t as bad as it sounds, but concedes the star ruckman’s absence will require a new set of stoppage tactics.
Naitanui will miss the next six to eight weeks after the Eagles decided to send him in for surgery to relieve the pain he’s been feeling around his Achilles tendon.
But Simpson revealed it wasn’t actually the Achilles tendon that was the problem, but rather another tendon near the area.
West Coast’s medical staff initially tried to manage the soreness by limiting Naitanui’s training loads.
But after Naitanui laboured through last week’s AFL loss to Adelaide, it was decided surgery was the best option.
Simpson said although losing Naitanui was a blow, having the surgery done now was the best option.
“It’s actually not as dire as what it sounds,” Simpson told Perth radio station 6PR.
“It’s actually not his Achilles – it’s a little tendon next to his Achilles that’s doing a little bit of damage with the pain barrier.
“His inability to train during the week is probably the reason why we decided to get the procedure done.
“We think it will fix it pretty quick. It’s not a massive procedure, but it is surgery and will take a while to rebuild once he gets it done.”
Scott Lycett will lead the ruck in Naitanui’s absence, with either Fraser McInnes, Jonathan Giles, or Jeremy McGovern to provide ruck back-up.
Simpson admits he will need to put in the long hours this week trying to come up with new stoppage strategies to cope with the loss of Naitanui.
“We’re pretty good at clearances and scores from stoppages,” Simpson said.
“We’d be in the top three or four. A lot of that is based on what we do with the big fella. Now that he’s not there, can we maintain that presence?”
Simpson has promised to make some statements on the selection front following the team’s capitulation to Adelaide last week.
The Eagles lost that match by 29 points after conceding the final eight goals of the match, and there’ll be some heads on the chopping block this week.
But Mark LeCras won’t be among them, with the out-of-form forward set to be given another chance in Saturday’s clash with Brisbane at the Gabba.
“He’s an experienced player. I’d like to back him in,” Simpson said.
“I’m not going to drop him this week, that’s for sure. It’s something I think he can work through.”