Nic Nat paddy whack
Nic Nat paddy whack

West Coast coach Adam Simpson has doused the hype around ruckman Nic Naitanui, warning that the 23-year-old was still maturing and stressing the Eagles could not build a game plan around one player.

There were no guarantees that Naitanui would play in round one, Simpson said. Medical staff were monitoring his response to training loads and would react quickly if he pulled up sore.

Naitanui was adamant earlier this week that he would play at least one pre-season match. Simpson said that was the plan but it would change quickly if Naitanui had soreness issues.

Simpson also:

·Declared Hawthorn premiership player Xavier Ellis was in West Coast's best 18 if fully fit. Ellis is likely to play in the club's NAB Challenge match against Fremantle on Tuesday.

·Said first-round draft pick Dom Sheed was the most advanced of the club's rookies but it was too early to say if he would play against the Dockers.

·Predicted the club would know within two weeks if Beau Waters needed further surgery on his troublesome shoulder.

Simpson said there was no race to get Naitanui on the field.

"He is progressing really well and he is hopefully going to be available for a game before round one," Simpson said.

"If we can get that in him then he will more likely than not play round one.

"But it is a day-to-day, week-to-week thing. It is not a race for round one.

"It is a case of getting him right so that when he plays it is not chucking him in at the deep end.

"We are increasing (training loads) weekly and if he pulls up well we increase it again and if he doesn't then we stabilise until he does pull up well and then we go up again.

"To say that he is definitely playing round one isn't right but we are planning on him playing before round one if he continues to progress the way that he has been."

Simpson said success at Hawthorn had taught him not to rely on individuals.

"You can't rely on one player and the Hawthorn model is a great example of that," he said.

"You can't build a game plan around Nic. Obviously we want him in the side, we would love him playing, but we can't rise and fall off the back of him.

"It is great to have someone with that sort of presence but it would be good to not be known just as that.

"I am yet to see him really train so my judgments are from afar. Everyone is interested in him and hopefully we get to see him play in the next few weeks."

Ellis was a quality person and player who had come through the pre-season without hiccup, Simpson said.

"He is a number three draft pick," Simpson said.

"I knew that getting him over wasn't going to be an issue with his character and that is a big part of trading and recruiting.

"At his best he is in our best 18. He gets a lot of collision injuries and that has held him back."

The West Australian

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