West Coast star ruckman Nic Naitanui this morning said his goal was still to play round one despite rumours he might have a delayed start to the year.
Naitanui, who had groin surgery in November, also denied he was suffering from osteitis pubis.
The All-Australian was in Middle Swan today talking to and helping train members of the Flying Boomerangs squad – a young team for indigenous footballers – who fly to South Africa for a tour tonight.
“I have been following my program so my goal is still round one,” he said.
Naitanui said he had started running but was unsure when he would start doing ball work.
“It is my body and I know how it feels so I am just working on my rehab program with the club,” he said.
“It has all been planned out well in advance so it is on track and unless there are any mishaps or anything going wrong then that might push me back but at this stage I am aiming for round one.
“If I am not ready, I am not ready but if I am I will put my hand up.”
Naitanui was joined at the Boomerangs induction by teammate Josh Hill.
Hill endorsed Naitanui's view that was not far away from joining the rest of the team in pre-season training.
“He (Nic) has kept it pretty quiet, he does his own programs and he is walking laps and I think he will be up and about pretty soon,” Hill said.
“I know the boys are missing him out on the track. We had a big session yesterday and I know Dean Cox is struggling with all the workload in the ruck.”
But the small forward said if Naitanui did have a delayed start to the year, the club had the depth to cover his absence.
He named Scott Lycett and rookie Callum Sinclair as possible back-ups for Cox.