Champion West Coast Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui has played his last game for the club.
It’s no surprise that the big man has been cut down by injury, and consequently has decided to call time on his remarkable 213-game career.
He joins teammates Luke Shuey and Shannon Hurn in announcing that this AFL season will be their last.
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Naitanui has not managed to play a game this year after battling an Achilles injury that ultimately required surgery several weeks ago.
“I feel like I have exhausted every avenue to work my way through my injury, but my body is sending a strong message that it is time,” Naitanui said in a statement.
“You never want this day to come, but it always does and I’m content in the knowledge that I have given it everything.
“Being a power athlete who has relied on my ability to jump throughout my career this injury was probably going to take that away from me.
“I am also looking at a lengthy rehabilitation from my latest surgery and there are no guarantees of making it back to AFL level even if everything goes to plan. I have given it a lot of thought in the last few weeks and this is the best decision for the club, myself and my family.
“I would also like to thank the club for the opportunity, the enormous amount of support I have received along the journey and the lifelong friendships that have been created.”
A three-time All-Australian, Naitanui has also had to contend with two knee reconstructions and various other injuries through his decorated career.
“Nic has been a legacy player for our football club and has been one of the most influential players of his generation,” senior coach Adam Simpson said. “Sadly, he is the third club great to retire in the last three weeks.
“In some respects it is the end of an era and we will certainly miss Nic. In the last couple of years when he has been limited in the amount of games he has played his impact around the group has remained significant.
“There have been few ruckman in history to have a bigger impact on the game and he will always hold a special place in the history of the club.”
Naitanui was selected with pick No.2 in the 2008 National Draft and excited fans from the outset, playing a leading role in a 2009 victory against Hawthorn at Subiaco Oval in just his second game. Shuey was secured in that same draft with selection 18.