Naitanui admits it s been a rough ride
Nic Naitanui battles Brisbane's Michael Close. Pic: Getty Images

West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui has admitted to being off the pace this year, blaming a limited preparation for what "hasn't been the best season".

The 2012 All-Australian ruckman told the AFL's website yesterday he had struggled for consistency in 2014 after a nagging groin injury meant he missed the majority of the pre-season.

The same injury limited him to just 11 games in 2013.

The round-16 loss to Sydney was the first game Naitanui had missed all season, the club opting to rest him.

"It hasn't been the best season for me," he said.

"For me, it's about trying to find that balance and trying to find that consistency, so I'm just looking to finish off pretty strongly over the next couple of weeks."

The Eagles have a bye this weekend, but will train on Sunday in preparation for their clash with Richmond next Friday night at Patersons Stadium.

Both Naitanui and games record holder Dean Cox are expected to be fit and available for the first time in a month, potentially squeezing out promising young ruckman Scott Lycett.

Naitanui hoped the break would help him finish strongly, although his comments suggested the club's next pre-season was already on his mind.

"Coming into the year there was still a little bit of trouble, but I was able to continue and play through the first couple of games," Naitanui said.

"I had a week off two weeks ago and having the bye this week has given my body a bit of rest as well. But I'm in pretty good shape and looking forward to being a part of 100 per cent of pre-season.

"I'm always looking to improve each week, but I guess that summer period where you have time to train is the time where you want to get the most out of your body.

"So I'm looking for bigger and better things."

He said he wanted to win more uncontested ball.

"For me, I think 90 per cent of my possessions are contested, so that next step is finding the uncontested footy, the easy footy I guess," Naitanui said.

"I've been putting in a lot of work on how I get some of those easy touches, so I'm still a work in progress."

The West Australian

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