Big Eagle to keep fresh
Big Eagle to keep fresh

Veteran Dean Cox expects to be rested for at least two matches this season in a bid to stay fresh for a September tilt and extend his career into 2015.

The 32-year-old, who is on course to set a new club games record against Geelong at Simonds Stadium in round four, wants to play on into a 15th AFL season at West Coast - if his body holds up.

And the six-times All-Australian said the good health of the Eagles list had the players more upbeat about their prospects than they had been for several seasons heading into Sunday's clash with the Western Bulldogs at Patersons Stadium.

Cox has not missed a game in four years and shouldered much of the ruck burden last year as Nic Naitanui battled groin problems.

But he said he could no longer expect to indefinitely continue an unbroken run of 93 consecutive games that stretches back to the start of 2010. Captain Darren Glass missed two matches last year and Cox predicted he would follow suit in 2014.

"If everything goes to plan I can't really see myself playing every game," Cox said.

"It gets to the stage now where although nothing's been scheduled, it'll be spoken about throughout the year.

"There's two byes now as well. It's a little bit unknown.

"I've played the last four years straight, so I think at some stage if an opportunity does present itself it'll happen. The amount of times? A couple, maybe."

Cox's playing future will be decided mid-season or at the end of the year - the timing is not set in stone.

"I want to make sure that I'm playing good footy and knowing that I can still do that 15 rounds into the following year," he said.

"If I can't do that, it'll be time to finish."

Naitanui did not line up for West Coast until round six last season, but is a certainty to play against the Bulldogs.

"He's been able to get a fair chunk of training in, but after that he's been able to play a game and then have a three-and-a-half quarter, 100-minute session in the practice game we played on Friday," Cox said.

"I'd expect him to do some ruck work. How the game unfolds will determine how much he actually does."

The duo will battle last year's All-Australian ruckman Will Minson, who Cox rates as one of the most improved in the competition.

"He's certainly a big body, he controls ruck hit-outs well, follows up and provides options around the ground," Cox said.

"He was a fantastic player last year and the reason their midfield was ranked so highly in clearances. They're going to be big improvers and they've had a really good pre-season. It should be a cracker come Sunday."

… I can't really see myself playing every game. " *Dean Cox *

The West Australian

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