It s my time to cop it: Naitanui
Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui says it is his time to cop criticism for his performances, but declared he and the club were realistic about where he was at and the role he was playing, on an eventful selection night ahead of Sunday's western derby.

Naitanui was named at full-forward to play his ninth derby. Defender Shannon Hurn was also included as Fremantle, stung by their loss to North Melbourne, dropped leadership group member Matt de Boer and took steps to fix a dysfunctional forward line.

De Boer paid the price for the Dockers' struggle to kick a score in the past two matches and was the one player omitted.

Michael Barlow was named on a seven-man interchange bench and is expected to play provided he pulls up well from a training session today.

Naitanui told Channel Seven he was aware of, but not perturbed by, mounting criticism of his efforts this year after a modified pre-season because of persistent groin concerns.

"I think every player cops it at some stage in their career," he said.

"I look at it as this is my time right now and it's a good learning experience. It does give you a bit of a kick as well. It's not a bad thing.

"If everyone was telling you you're doing the right thing and patting you on the back it would just be too easy.

"It's a challenge I look forward to.

"We knew from the start of the season what we could expect. We know that it's going to take a bit of time, but coming off the base I've come off, we're realists and know where I'm at, so it's not fussing us internally at the moment."

Hurn and Barlow sustained similar knee injuries in round two. The Eagles opted not to risk Mark LeCras, who fractured an arm in round three, while Docker Anthony Morabito will get more game time in the WAFL.

De Boer has played 107 games and hasn't played a WAFL match since the start of 2011 when injuries disrupted his run into the season.

He has averaged 16.5 touches a game this year and laid 45 tackles. But he has kicked only one goal and his inability to hit the scoreboard, coupled with Chris Mayne's battles (two goals from five games), convinced the Fremantle selectors a change was necessary.

Hayden Ballantyne returns from a one-match suspension.

Four of seven players named on Fremantle's extended interchange - Nick Suban, Hayden Crozier, Tom Sheridan and Cameron Sutcliffe - were in the team beaten by North Melbourne.

West Coast welcomed back Darren Glass from suspension at the expense of Dom Sheed.

Sharrod Wellingham, Andrew Gaff, Scott Lycett and Jeremy McGovern were listed on the bench alongside Hurn, Sam Butler and Simon Tunbridge.

The West Australian

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