West Coast coach Adam Simpson is adamant he’ll take a no-risks approach with Nic Naitanui, but says the club’s medical staff will need to come up with a good reason not to play the star ruckman this weekend.
Naitanui is a chance to return in Saturday’s AFL clash with Collingwood at the MCG.
The 2012 All-Australian has been grounded for the past five games after undergoing surgery on both of his feet to address Achilles tendon soreness.
Naitanui, who had both of his plantaris tendons removed, is back in full training now, and Simpson would love nothing more than to see the 26-year-old back in Eagles colours.
But he said the team’s medical staff will need to give the final tick of approval.
“We’ve got to see how he pulls up after some solid sessions,” Simpson told Perth radio station 6PR.
“He wasn’t off his legs for too long. It was probably four or five days before he started to get into rehab.
“I know it was an operation, a genuine procedure on both Achilles. But it was minor, and he’s responded really well.
“We definitely won’t risk him if he’s not getting the tick from medicos. But they’re going to have to find a (good) reason not to play him.”
Simpson said if Naitanui does play against the Magpies, his game time will be limited.
West Coast are just percentage adrift of second spot following a five-match winning run.
But there were plenty of concerns to come out of last week’s six-point win over Melbourne.
The Demons won the inside-50m count 66-37, contested possessions 160-143, and the tackle count 98-83.
Simpson admits his team were lucky to come away with a win, and he knows there’s only five more weeks left to get things right before finals.