Three debutants and a player taken at No. 58 in the national draft will feature in the Eagles‘ round one line-up, writes MARK DUFFIELD.
West Coast Eagles will unveil three debutants in their season opening clash with North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday, but gun ruckman Nic Naitanui won’t run out alongside them.
The Eagles revealed on their club website on Tuesday that Campbell Chesser, Reuben Ginbey and Noah Long will all play against the Roos, along with former Melbourne player Jayden Hunt, who has joined the Eagles after 114 games with the Demons.
Ginbey was considered a lock for his debut after a strong performance in the Eagles’ disappointing loss to Adelaide in their last practice match and Chesser had played in both practice matches against Adelaide and Port.
But small forward Long is the bolter of the trio.
The 58th player taken in the national draft had impressed in match simulation and played against Port Adelaide before being left out of the senior team against Adelaide.
Meanwhile, the Eagles took the step of ruling Naitanui out early despite strong running performances at two training sessions in the last five days.
“Nic has been working diligently with our strength and conditioning team to return to play as soon as possible and is making encouraging progress,” West Coast football manager Gavin Bell told the club website.
“When Nic does return we want him to play with the same unique explosiveness and power around the contest that we have all come to know and admire about his game.
“While he continues his positive progression Nic won’t be available to play North Melbourne in round one at Marvel Stadium this Saturday.”
It means West Coast will now sweat on the availability of Bailey Williams, a late withdrawal from the match against Adelaide with a tight hamstring.
Williams has been absent from main group training drills since, doing running work with a rehab group.
If he doesn’t recover in time, Callum Jamieson will be left to play a lone hand in the ruck with makeshift back up against the Kangaroos.