AAP AFL

Nic Nat ruled out ‘indefinitely’ by Eagles

By AAP Newswire

The return date of West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui remains up in the air, with the club ruling the ruckman out indefinitely.

Naitanui may not play again this year after suffering a syndesmosis injury to his right ankle in the one-point AFL loss to Collingwood.

The Eagles analysed Naitanui's scans on Tuesday, and are hopeful he won't need surgery.

But whether he can play again this year remains to be seen.

"At this point we have decided to treat it conservatively and we're going to use our best efforts to avoid surgery," Eagles football operations manager Craig Vozzo said.

"At this point we're not setting a return to play date because it will be really dependent how he proceeds through his rehabilitation."

In more bad news for the Eagles, premiership speedster Daniel Venables has been ruled out for the rest of the year with concussion.

Venables was concussed in the round nine win over Melbourne, and hasn't been able to return.

Goalsneak Jamie Cripps will also miss at least three weeks with a groin injury,

"It's ended up being more of the plain vanilla type (strain), which we had our fingers crossed for, but that still means he'll be out for a three-to-four week period," Vozzo said.

"But he's in good spirits and already starting to move around quite well."

The hardness of the Optus Stadium turf has again been thrown into the spotlight following the Naitanui injury.

West Coast premiership defender Liam Duggan also suffered a syndesmosis injury at the same venue a week earlier, ruling him out for up to six weeks.

Fremantle and West Coast have been plagued by foot and ankle injuries since the opening of the $1.6 billion stadium before the 2018 season.

Star Dockers forwards Matt Taberner and Rory Lobb have suffered foot stress fractures this season, while defender Alex Pearce fractured an ankle.

Eagles defender Tom Barrass and forward Willie Rioli have missed big chunks this year with stress reactions in their feet, while Elliot Yeo and Jamie Cripps battled foot issues over the summer.

Even though some of the injuries haven't occurred at the stadium itself, the clubs believe that the harder surface there may have left the players prone to these types of injuries down the track.

Both West Coast and Fremantle have stopped training at Optus Stadium at various points this year, with the clubs working with venue management to address the turf issue.

West Coast coach Adam Simpson acknowledges that things are heading in the right direction, but he's well aware it's still an issue.

Naitanui's absence will heap huge pressure on Tom Hickey, starting with Sunday's clash with Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn in Alice Springs.