Disclaimer: I’m a West Coast Eagles fan, so figure that into your assessments when considering my objectivity. However, for the purposes of this prediction, I’m calling that the Eagles will be the best performed of all the expansion teams.
West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui says he still has a glimmer of hope of playing again this season, and has vowed to do everything he can to stave off the surgeon’s knife.
The Eagles feared Naitanui’s season was over after scans showed he had suffered a significant syndesmosis injury to his right ankle in the round 17 loss to Collingwood.
Specialists who looked over the scans wanted to book Naitanui in for surgery.
But the 29-year-old is desperate to play again this season, and hopes his ankle will hold up well to weight-bearing exercises over the coming weeks.
“The scans weren’t too pretty after the game,” Naitanui told channel 7.
“Initially it looked like I was going to have to have surgery straight away in the first couple of days.
“But the last few days have put a bit of a smile on my face, because it means I can avoid that and I’ve got a glimmer of hope of playing some finals footy.
“It might only be small, but it’s something, and I’ll hang onto that.
“We’re going to look at it in fortnightly blocks and just go from there and see how I progress once I start weight bearing with walking, running, and jumping.
“I’ve got to get through these two weeks, otherwise they’ll shut me down.”
The hardness of the Optus Stadium surface has been blamed for a series of leg, ankle and foot injuries suffered by West Coast and Fremantle players.
But Naitanui doesn’t think it played a role in his injury – saying the weight of teammate Jeremy McGovern falling on him was the cause.
West Coast are a game clear in third spot, and just 1.4 percentage points adrift of the Lions.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson is optimistic skipper Shannon Hurn and McGovern will be fit to take on North Melbourne in Perth on Saturday.
Hurn missed Sunday’s 13-point win over Melbourne after injuring his calf at training a day earlier.
McGovern rolled his ankle during the match, but was able to play out the game.
“The early signs are good,” Simpson told channel 7 when asked about McGovern’s injury.
“I think it’s just the standard rolled ankle, which you don’t get many of them anymore. It’s normally something more sinister. So we think he’s ok.
“He’ll have a light week, and he should be available this weekend.”
“He (Hurn) woke up (on Monday morning) and couldn’t feel (his calf strain). So we’re hopeful he’ll make a return to play this week as well.”