Vulnerable Dogs Beware of Naitanui Dominance | The times of Inverell



Stefan Martin’s ongoing injury issues have left the Western Bulldogs feeling vulnerable in the ruck as Tim English prepares for a key battle with West Coast game winner Nic Naitanui. Recruited from Brisbane to support the Englishman, Martin has appeared in six of the first seven games this season but has managed only one appearance in the past two months. The 34-year-old suffered a shoulder injury coming back from an Achilles tendon injury in the 12th round and is now troubled by a groin complaint that erupted in training and will keep him in the game. ‘gap for several weeks. The Bulldogs have chosen not to recall five-player Jordon Sweet to help the Englishman, who will shoulder the vast majority of the ruck load against Naitanui at Optus Stadium on Sunday. “Seeing what Max Gawn did to us against Melbourne with youngster Sweety, who is still learning capers, we have to make some good decisions about this position in selection and see where we can get an advantage elsewhere,” Dogs coach Luke Beveridge said. mentionned. “So unfortunately we’re probably where we were, in a sense, last year with all of this right now.” It’s not ideal but we just have to tackle it. “We’re big boys and strategically that’s going to be an interesting part of the game (against the West Coast).” Naitanui played a huge role in the West Coast’s important win over Richmond before the bye – racking up 31 shots on goal, 20 eliminations, five clearances and one goal – and is shaping up as a huge threat for the Bulldogs in saves. “We just have to be smart about it from a coaching standpoint,” said Beveridge. “You don’t concede, but you understand where the vulnerability could be. We’ve seen him tear up other really seasoned ruckmen so you’d expect Nic to have a big influence on the game while stopped.” Naitanui played 72 percent of playing time against Richmond – up from an average of 67 percent for the season – and was a key contributor in the final quarter as the Eagles scored four late-game goals to snatch a thrilling victory four points. “I thought he finished his game as well as he did all year against Richmond and he played more playing time in this last quarter than maybe what we’ve seen “said Beveridge. “So we understand what we’re up against and we’re going to need to organize and be ready for the stopping aspect.” Then we need to figure out where we can get the benefits and how we can support Tim in the ruck. Bruce, Alex Keath and Mitch Hannan all did a little ruck job to help the Englishman in the Bulldogs’ siren loss to Geelong last week. Key forward Aaron Naughton was washed of significant rib damage after a Collision with Jed Bews in this match and will play against West Coast. A win would allow the second-seeded Dogs to dig deeper into the top-four as the final race intensifies. Associated Australian Press



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