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Eagles keen to avoid another Tigers romp

3 minute read

West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui will play his first AFL match since round four when he fronts up for Sunday's clash with Richmond at the MCG.

NIC NAITANUI. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick isn't expecting another walkover when his team confront a Nic Naitanui-boosted West Coast at the MCG on Sunday.

The Eagles slumped to a 109-point loss to the Tigers in round seven - the sixth biggest loss in West Coast's history.

The heavy defeat came amidst a club-record nine-match losing run for the Eagles.

Just two months have elapsed since West Coast's capitulation to Richmond, but the Eagles are confident of putting up a much better showing in the re-match.

The Eagles pushed Geelong all the way in an 18-point loss in round 14 and followed it up with a 10-point win over Essendon last week.

Richmond will start as hot favourites on Sunday, but Hardwick is bracing for a big fight.

"They've got their squad up and going now and their last two weeks they've been really good," Hardwick said of West Coast.

"They didn't get over the line against Geelong but we saw what West Coast are capable of versus Essendon.

"We're under no illusions and we know their very best is good enough.

"We've got to play the Richmond style of game that we know will get the result but we're up against a much-improved squad this week."

Elliot Yeo, Naitanui and Tom Barrass were all absent in round seven and their presence on Sunday will prove crucial.

Naitanui's inclusion in particular is a huge boost for West Coast, who have been battered at the stoppages all year.

The last time Naitanui played - round four - West Coast posted a shock 13-point win over Collingwood at Marvel Stadium.

"He's very dynamic, he's a game-changer isn't he?" Hardwick said.

"He plays a small amount of game time but it's high impact when he's on.

"We're very fortunate that we've got two pretty good rucks going at the moment.

"Toby Nankervis, I think, is in the best form of his career and Ivan Soldo is a player that we're incredibly bullish on.

"So we're pleased with how our rucks are going and I'm sure West Coast are having the same conversation about our boys."

West Coast forward Josh Kennedy, who booted five goals in a match-winning display against the Bombers, has been rested this week.

Zane Trew, a 20-year-old midfielder who was taken in the 2021 rookie draft, has been named for his debut.

Triple premiership forward Jason Castagna returns for Richmond, but Dion Prestia was ruled out with concussion.

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