The West

Nic Nat to extend Cox s career: Jakovich
Nic Nat to extend Cox's career: Jakovich

West Coast great Glen Jakovich believes Dean Cox will extend his career long enough to claim his games-played record for the Eagles because of the emergence of Nic Naitanui.

Jakovich, who holds the club record of 276 games, said Naitanui had proved he could handle the No.1 ruckman role, allowing Cox to play forward, where he could remain dangerous for several seasons.

Cox turned 31 on August 1 and is contracted until the end of next season. He has played 246 games, with three home-and-away matches and a finals campaign ahead this year.

North Melbourne forward Drew Petrie claimed recently that the days of long careers would be numbered after the AFL rejected a push to have two byes next season. The 216-games Kangaroos veteran believed 200 games would soon become "the new 250".

But Jakovich said Cox, a five-times All-Australian, was showing he could go on to 300.

Apart from 2009, when a groin injury restricted him to 13 games, Cox has averaged nearly 23 games a season in the other seven of the past eight years.

"With the emergence of Nic Nat, he's now the No.2 ruckman ... and he's probably the most handy No.2 ruckman you've ever seen in the game," Jakovich said.

"I think that will prolong his career and his chance to play in another premiership.

"When you get to his age and at his height, you become a year-to-year proposition, but Dean has always had a lean frame and has always been quite durable.

"In a forward line combination with Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling, all things being equal, I think he could pass my record and give 300 a nudge. He doesn't even look like he's going to slow down unless something drastic happens.

"If he was still the No.1 ruckman for 100 minutes week in, week out, I'd have grave doubts that he'd get there. But I sit on the boundary and watch the velocity of the running and the players are just flying and for him to still be able to withstand that is a massive effort."

Jakovich said Cox deserved to be ranked among the State's best ruckmen of all time, alongside South Fremantle great Stephen Michael and perhaps behind only Graham "Polly" Farmer.

"How he finishes off in the next two or three years, that will pin his ultimate career," Jakovich said.

"If he can play in another successful finals series and they win another flag, he's going to have a CV that not many others are going to be able to rival."

West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett said the club remained optimistic that Cox would play on past his current contract expiry date.

"He's very durable and still playing great football," Nisbett said.

"Coxy will be year by year and will weigh it up at the end of each year. We'll be hoping he plays on not only next year, but at least the year after that and maybe even further.

"We're in no hurry to retire him, I can tell you that."

The West Australian

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