Simpson rules out extra Nic Nat time
West Coast head coach Adam Simpson says he will not be expecting star ruckman Nic Naitanui to increase the amount of minutes he plays in the 2021 AFL campaign.
The AFL is on course to return to normal in the new season, with full-length games and reduced interchange rotations back on the table.
But that does not mean Naitanui will be expected to play more minutes despite the fact he had an outstanding 2020 which saw him named as an All-Australian for the second time in his career.
Instead Simpson and his coaching staff are working on a plan that could involve a two-pronged ruck structure. And he has the players to do it.
"He'll have to spend a bit more time on the bench. We can't say, 'Nic, go from 80 minutes to 110'," Simpson told AFL.com.au.
"We'll just have to look at what we do around him rather than [how we use] Nic. There's a few options and we're still working through what it looks like.
"Oscar Allen did it last year. Can we ruck him for an extra 30 minutes? Young Bailey Williams is coming through … and Nathan Vardy is our veteran now.
"He didn't play a game last year, 'Vards', and a lot of it was because we used Oscar Allen, but things might change with the extension of the game."
Meanwhile, Simpson has also ruled out the option of pushing Naitanui further forward to give him a rest and extend his playing time.
"Resting forward is a furphy. You don't rest and they don't want to go forward because they work harder with how they defend," Simpson added.
"We need to drop the 'rest forward' notion, unless you're just standing in the goalsquare, and we've already got a guy standing in the goalsquare and that's Josh Kennedy."
The Eagles are priced at 8/1 to win the NRL grand final.
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