Ex-Hawk set for Eagles debut
Ex-Hawk set for Eagles debut

Xavier Ellis is one intraclub game away from making the transition from injured Hawthorn list member to West Coast senior player after coach Adam Simpson declared he would play in round one - if fit.

The Eagles open their season on March 23 against the Western Bulldogs. Ellis will play in a West Coast-East Perth hit-out on Friday after impressive form in two NAB Challenge wins against Fremantle and Sydney.

The 26-year-old played just two games for the Hawks last year after lingering calf problems, but has emerged unscathed so far this summer.

Speaking at West Coast's season launch breakfast at Crown Perth, Simpson also said ruckman Nic Naitanui would play on Friday, while the other highlight of the function was the announcement of the late Chris Mainwaring's son Zac as the club's No.1 junior ticket holder for 2014.

Ellis, the third player taken in the 2005 national draft and a 2008 Hawthorn premiership player, has been beset by injury, managing 86 games in eight years.

He admitted yesterday that he arrived at West Coast out of shape and that many of his personal belongings were broken in the shift to Perth. But Simpson confirmed that Ellis' fragile body had held together well.

"He didn't play on the weekend, but he will be another one who touches the footy this weekend and will top up his game time," Simpson said.

"If he is fit he will play.

"He had a good little break in the paddock, but he worked really hard and he hasn't missed a training session."

Simpson said Naitanui had pulled up well from playing a half against Fremantle last week and would play four quarters on Friday, including some ruckwork.

Barring a mishap, he would play against the Dogs "for sure".

"We need to get a good solid hit-out into Nic," Simpson said.

The West Australian

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