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West Coast Eagles

Naitanui holding teammates to task

Naitanui press conference 30.01.19 The Eagles ruckman discusses his knee rehabilitation process along with a target return date in 2019

Nic Naitanui says he is holding West Coast's grand final heroes to task in the hope that he too will finish his career with a premiership medallion.

The 28-year-old joked that he tried to curb his teammates' celebrations after their triumph over Collingwood and get them focused on climbing the game’s highest peak again in 2019 as quickly as possible.

Naitanui missed the grand final after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the Eagles’ round 17 clash with the Magpies at the MCG.

It was a cruel blow for the 2012 All-Australian, who was sidelined for entirety of season 2017 with his first ACL injury.

“I think a week post the grand final celebrations I was making sure the boys weren’t drinking too much or partying too hard because I want one,” Naitanui said.

“I think a lot of them have that mindset of once they’ve won one they want another one, which is good to hear and good to see.

“Our young group of guys are pretty hungry as well. There is a group of guys who are older who missed out playing, but also the guys who are younger that missed out really want to play.

“Seeing guys like Dan Venables, Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan win one, being a similar age, they want one as well. It’s helping drive all the boys to work harder.”

Naitanui intends to be fit and available should the Eagles make this year’s season decider.

In fact, the talismanic ruckman hopes to return well before the finals.

Naitanui said he was eyeing a comeback ahead of West Coast’s round 13 bye, meaning his rehabilitation would span just 11 months – eight months fewer than his first knee reconstruction recovery.

“I guess having that prior knowledge from doing my knee last time, I’ve probably been able to speed it up a little bit more,” Naitanui said.

“I was on crutches a lot longer last time and I wasn’t able to put any pressure or any weight through my legs for 12-16 weeks. This time we did six weeks and I was back walking and started jogging pretty quickly.

“I think at this stage we’ve kind of looked at the middle of the year, potentially before the bye. It’s a symptom-based thing I guess to see how it goes week-by-week. I’ll have a better idea once I’m back into full training in a couple of weeks.”

Naitanui credited his quick recovery to some specialised training session’s at Perth's Ninja Academy.

He said a group of Eagles, including Josh Kennedy and the squad’s ruckmen, regularly utilised the centre’s sprung floor to hone their leaping and landing techniques.

“They kind of manage our loads, the strength and conditioning coaches, about how much jumping you do on the hard surfaces,” he said.

“There is less stress on your body jumping on the sprung floor. It’s almost like being on a trampoline. It’s a good little tool to practice with."