West Coast has named its strongest WAFL team of the year for tomorrow’s clash with East Fremantle at New Choice Homes Park.
As reported earlier this week, 2012 all-Australian ruckman Nic Naitanui will make his long-awaited return to football against the Sharks.
It will be his first hit-out since rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Collingwood at the MCG in round 17 last year.
Naitanui will run out alongside several experienced campaigners on Saturday, including premiership defenders Tom Barrass and Tom Cole, plus 316-game AFL veteran Drew Petrie.
Barrass returns via the WAFL following a nine-week absence due to a stress-related foot injury, while Cole will be looking to press his selection case after being omitted from the senior team for last night’s clash with Essendon.
While Naitanui and Barrass’ inclusion is the major headline, Petrie’s return after 18 months out of the game is equally intriguing.
There has been a dearth of key position options for the WAFL in recent weeks, particularly with experienced forward Fraser McInnes (shoulder) and young defender Harry Edwards (foot) out of action with injury.
Petrie, 36, was able to be added to the club’s WAFL list ahead of the June 30 list lodgement deadline.
He will add much-needed experience and height to the line-up.
The WAFL Eagles also regain captain Fraser McInnes, dangerous key forward Jake Waterman, who has kicked 14 goals in his four state-league appearances this year, speedy outside runner Josh Smith and versatile defender Josh Rotham.
West Coast will confirm its final 22 ahead of the first bounce tomorrow.