Ahhh the old Eagles v Swans rivalry. What a game to finish round 1!
Nic Nat’s back! Nic Nat’s back! Let’s be honest, that seems to be all everyone has been caring about for the last few months… And the news we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. Nic Naitanui has been named to play round 1 for the West Coast Eagles this weekend. It will be his first senior match since suffering an ACL injury in round 22, 2016.
The West Coast Eagles will take on the Sydney Swans on Sunday at the beautiful new Optus Stadium in Perth, bounce down at 4.20pm WST. Even with the return of Nic Nat, I think the Swans will be going into this game as heavy favourites. West Coast are still without some of their influential players such as star-forward Josh Kennedy, who’s return from ankle surgery looks set for round three. Jeremy McGovern copped a bump to the noggin in the JLT series (which saw Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray suspended for a week) however, all seems fine with Gov now and he has been named to play.
Sydney looked very convincing in the JLT series this year and they will be coming into this season with confidence. The Eagles have had a slight exodus since last season, including Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell, and I think they are still trying to find their feet without these big-name players through the midfield.
Without JK in the side for the next couple of weeks, the West Coast Eagles are going to need players like Jack Darling and Mark LeCras to step it up in the forward line and provide some options inside 50. They were both basically MIA in the JLT clash with the Fremantle Dockers, with Jamie Cripps being West Coast’s highest point-scorer in that game, with just one goal and two behinds. Now I know JLT doesn’t exactly count… However, there were a couple of worrying signs, and hopefully coach Adam Simpson and the team have tried to address these in the lead up to round 1.
Hopefully the home ground advantage will play some part in favour of the West Coast Eagles in this one, I’m hoping for a close game!