Nic Nat relishes role in engine room
Nic Nat relishes role in engine room

Nic Naitanui appears likely to be used as a midfielder and forward in West Coast's season opener after completing a second pre-season hit-out at Patersons Stadium last night.

The 23-year-old started the intraclub match in the centre square as a midfielder and was used sparingly in the ruck despite the lack of experienced opposition, with a host of East Perth players taking to the field.

His first two touches came in defence in the form of handballs midway through the first term.

The athletic ruckman concentrated on covering ground during the low-intensity contest, with his trademark flashes of brilliance largely absent.

The use of Naitanui will be a boost to the selection hopes of fringe ruckmen Scott Lycett and Callum Sinclair heading into a round-one clash against the Western Bulldogs at the same venue tomorrow week.

Lycett and Sinclair both sat out the hit-out, but have already impressed in playing all three of West Coast's pre-season matches.

One of them is expected to partner veteran Dean Cox in the ruck against the Dogs, with Lycett's position on the primary list giving him an added advantage. Former Hawk Xavier Ellis and Will Schofield were both effective running out of defence.

Ellis sat out West Coast's previous 19-point practice match victory over Fremantle.

The 86-game player looks certain to make his Eagles debut against the Bulldogs, while Schofield has built game time in recent weeks after a hamstring strain interrupted his build-up to the season.

Newly-appointed vice-captain Scott Selwood and fellow midfielder Matt Priddis both featured prominently to top up their pre-season minutes.

Selwood started in the centre square, but rotated through a variety of positions including a brief spell in attack.

Priddis was tagged at times by de-listed Port Adelaide defender Nathan Blee in a rigorous work-out ahead of a midfield clash with Dogs quartet Ryan Griffen, Tom Liberatore, Adam Cooney and Matthew Boyd.

Seventeen Eagles played in total in a trial run of the new AFL alignment model that will link West Coast directly with East Perth from this season.

A host of first-choice West Coast players sat out the scratch match.

The West Australian

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