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West Coast Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui in prime position to claim first John Worsfold medal

Ruckman Nic Naitanui will have his best chance of joining the list of greats to be crowned West Coast’s club champion when the Eagles hold their best and fairest at Crown Perth on Monday night.

Naitanui is one of the favourites to win his first John Worsfold Medal on the back of a career-best season which was recognised with his second All-Australian selection.

While already recognised as one of the most iconic players in West Coast’s history, Naitanui has not traditionally fared well in the award.

The 30-year-old, who has played 183 games, has just one top-five finish — when he came fifth in his first full season in 2010.

In 2012, when Naitanui earned his first All-Australian blazer, he missed the top 10.

Naitanui would become the second ruckman to win the award, after Dean Cox claimed his only club champion trophy in 2008.

Fellow 2020 All-Australians Brad Sheppard and Liam Ryan are also leading contenders, along with consistent wingman Andrew Gaff.

Nic Naitanui of the Eagles breaks from the centre.
Camera IconNic Naitanui of the Eagles breaks from the centre. Credit: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos

The West Coast players submitted Naitanui, Ryan and Sheppard as their three best for the AFL Players’ Association MVP award, while Naitanui was the leading Eagle as voted by the coaches this season.

Naitanui played 17 of West Coast’s 18 games in 2020, having been rested for the round 16 match against the Western Bulldogs.

Six players played every game for the Eagles, with Tim Kelly, Jack Darling and Tom Barrass joining Gaff, Sheppard and Ryan as players who didn’t miss.

This year’s John Worsfold Medal will be a smaller event than usual due to COVID-19 restrictions, with the public unable to buy tickets.

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