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Vardy owes Petrie for new-found durability

Travis King,  May 15, 2017 3:00 PM

Nathan Vardy has paid tribute to Drew Petrie for keeping him on the paddock this year

Nathan Vardy has paid tribute to Drew Petrie for keeping him on the paddock this year

Nathan Vardy has remained West Coast's one constant during the club's ruck crisis, and the injury-plagued big man says he owes fellow recruit Drew Petrie for helping him stay on the park. 

After seven seasons at Geelong reaped just 25 games, Vardy sought a fresh start in Perth this season and has strung together eight appearances as the Eagles' lead ruckman, battling through a sore elbow in recent weeks.

Vardy, who knows Petrie's imminent return from a broken hand will put pressure on for ruck spots, has been grateful for the former North Melbourne veteran's advice about improving his durability.

"He showed me what it's like to be a professional and the stuff you do during the week to get yourself right for training, not just games," Vardy said.

"Learning from how he treats each day and each week has helped me a lot with being able to stay on the park."

Vardy partnered Petrie in the ruck in round one, and has since been backed-up by Jonathan Giles, pinch-hitters Jack Darling and Jeremy McGovern, plus 197cm rookie Fraser McInnes in a revolving big man department.

McInnes impressed with his competitiveness against the Western Bulldogs on Friday night, laying five tackles and winning 15 hit-outs in a determined effort after coming in when Giles was axed.

With Petrie in the mix to return at AFL or WAFL level this weekend and Scott Lycett (shoulder) two-to-three weeks away, Vardy wants to hold his spot by having a bigger impact up forward.

"Faith has been put it me to keep playing, but I've got to repay that faith," he said.

"(Giles being omitted) tells me as soon as I really lower my colours I can be out the door as well.

"With a couple of guys coming back I've got to start showing that I can play forward. I've got to show there's another ticket into the team.

"The challenge if you have big blokes up forward is you've got to be able to defend as well.

"If you're too tall and the ball comes out too easy, that's when you have a look at the setup.

"I've just got to work on the defensive side of my game and help out when the ball hits the ground."

After missing so much football throughout his career due to knee and hip issues, Vardy refused to let a painful elbow injury suffered in the Western Derby stop him playing in the past two wins over the Power and Dogs.

"It was described as a 'happy dislocation', which means it hasn't harmed any of the major tendons or ligaments," the 25-year-old said.

"So the risk of anything happening to it if I keep playing is pretty low.

"Because I've missed so much footy, all I want to do is play footy.

"As sore as I am, I've got to play a role for the team once I put my hand up."