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West Coast Eagles

Simpson praises resilient Naitanui

Game Breaker: Naitanui's Derby day out Nic Naitanui was at his brilliant best against the Dockers in RAC Derby 50!

West Coast coach Adam Simpson has praised the resilience of Nic Naitanui, after the star ruckman put on a dominant derby display in just his second match since returning from an ACL injury.

The Eagles set up their 91-point win over Fremantle on Saturday night with an eight goal to nil second quarter, which included four goals directly from centre clearances.

Naitanui's deft tap work was instrumental to the Eagles' centre dominance, and the ruckman also proved dangerous at ground level, with a miraculous one-handed pick-up in the second term setting up a Jarrod Cameron goal.

Simpson praised Naitanui's resilience, after he suffered a second ACL tear in round 17 last year that saw him miss the club's thrilling Grand Final win.

"We've missed Nic. We had him for 17 weeks last year and it was really unfortunate he wasn't back there for the back end of the season," Simpson said.

"We're a better team with him in it. (At) 50 per cent capacity … (Tom) Hickey was so important and allowed Nic to play the whole game out and be damaging when he was on.

"There's mental scarring when you do two (ACLs). It's a credit to Nic he can let himself go… he's on the most combative position on the ground and probably the best at it."

The Eagles were able to record a comprehensive win despite losing the inside 50 count by 10.

Even though Fremantle was extremely wasteful in front of goal (kicking 2.19), Simpson said a lot of credit must go to the Eagles' defenders.

"I thought our defenders stood up pretty well today," Simpson said.

"In the contest when it mattered most, our defenders really stood up and made it quite difficult for Fremantle to get a score and a good position."

The Eagles coach also was full of praise for young forward Jarrod Cameron, who kicked four goals from just seven touches.      

"He's a confident kid," Simpson said.

"He's in the side to provide a bit of pressure. He's probably come in a bit earlier than we anticipated but he's bringing pressure and finishing off his work … in a position that's hard to master.

"It's early days yet … (but) he's going well."