Star West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui says he doesn’t feel claustrophobic anymore after making a welcome return to the training track on Monday.
Naitanui has been largely restricted to indoor rehabilitation work since undergoing a reconstruction on his left knee in August.
But the 26-year-old joined his teammates in the sunshine on Monday in a significant step forward in his recovery.
Naitanui did a series of knee lifts, skips, short steps, and 20m trots.
And although Naitanui looked proppy when he attempted some short jogging, he was satisfied with his first outing.
“I guess when you spend a few weeks indoors, you start to get a bit claustrophobic,” Naitanui told the Eagles website.
“So the milestone was to get outdoors, and to start jogging and to get into running.
“It’s a bit weird. I haven’t run since I did my knee.
“Like anything it will take some time. I think these next few weeks I’ll be up and going.
“And I’ll look back at today and think it was a little milestone. It was tough, but something I needed to achieve to get further.”
Naitanui is hoping to return in the latter stages of the 2017 home-and-away campaign.
Assistant coach Justin Longmuir said Naitanui will embark on some proper running over the coming weeks.
“I’m guessing he’s going to be excited – not excited by the amount of running he’s going to have to do over the next five months, but excited to get out and get out on the grass,” Longmuir said.
“He can touch the footies and do stationary touch, and he’s been doing a lot of that.
“But any agility stuff is out of bounds. That will be his next progression after he starts running – getting him into the agility side of things.”
Ruckman Scott Lycett, who underwent a PCL reconstruction during the off-season, ran strongly in a positive sign.
Lycett remains unlikely to be fit for the start of the season, with West Coast recruiting Drew Petrie and Nathan Vardy as ruck cover.
“He’s started doing a little bit more agility work,” Longmuir said.
“We won’t rush him. We’ve got plenty of ruck stocks and over the trade and draft period we got some players in who can play that position.”