The West

Sandilands backs under-fire Eagle
Sandilands backs under-fire Eagle

Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands says he rates under-fire rival big man Nic Naitanui very highly ahead of their showdown in Sunday's western derby.

Sandilands came in for similar criticism earlier this season from legendary figure Leigh Matthews, who called the Docker "the most overrated player in footy".

But the veteran, who will celebrate his 200-game milestone in the crucial clash, denied it fired him up.

"I hadn't read the article," he said. "It was all about trying to get the four points. I heard externally but not what was in it.

"People are entitled to their opinion and all we can do is focus on playing good footy.

"I listen to my coaches and the guys I play with and take feedback from them rather than external stuff."

Sandilands said he was unaware of the flak Naitanui had been copping in the media this week after an underwhelming start to the season.

And he denied he was getting the dynamic Fijian at the right time.

"He's a quality player," Sandilands said. "He's very athletic.

"They're probably one of the best ruck combinations going around.

"When you've got Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui in your side you know you've got to be on your game to play against those guys.

"They've been playing together for a long time now.

"They've got great chemistry together and we know it's going to be a massive challenge.

"All I can do is focus on my footy and the way the Fremantle Football club is going, I can't control anything that's external."

Sandilands and teammate Garrick Ibbotson gave some youngsters some tips on the game at Richmond Primary School in East Fremantle this morning.

The West Australian

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