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'If we had a game today, I'd be ready to go'

Dinny Navaratnam, AFL.com.au  November 6, 2017 9:00 AM

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Nic Naitanui says he was a chance to return if the Eagles progressed further in the finals

If West Coast were playing today, Nic Naitanui would take to the field.

That's straight from the mouth of the most exciting ruckman in the game.

The high-flying big man did not play this year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in round 22, 2016.

He would have been a chance to return had the Eagles progressed further than the semi-finals, where they lost convincingly to Greater Western Sydney.

"The knee is feeling just as good as it was before I hurt it," Naitanui told News Corp.

"I am ready to play.

"If we had a game today, I'd be ready to go."

Those words will be of great comfort to West Coast fans, who have seen 12 players retire or be delisted this year, including Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell.

West Coast opens its 2018 campaign by playing at Perth Stadium for the first time, against Sydney on Sunday, March 25.

The 27-year-old could see the positive side of missing out on the entire season.

"It makes you appreciate it (his career) a little bit more. It gives you another perspective," Naitanui said.

"No player wants this injury. You want to be playing all the time, but at the same time, it has been a really good learning curve and I've been able to see footy from a different point of view – up in the stands and in the coach's box.

"Most of the time you are entrenched on what's going on, on game day, because you are in the moment.

"To be able to step back a little and see it from another view has been a big eye-opener for me."

Naitanui has lined up in 146 matches since he was drafted with the second overall selection in 2008.