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Naitanui signs five more years

Friday, May 23, 2014

PERTH - Sometimes the biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all.

West Coast became the latest club to take the plunge on a long-term contract this week by re-signing star ruckman Nic Naitanui for the next five AFL seasons.

At the peak of his powers, Naitanui is a proven match-winner who boasts a set of skills unlike any other current player.

Naitanui's marketability also makes him one of the AFL's most prized assets.

But a series of groin issues over the past 18 months has cast doubt over his durability.

Naitanui spent most of 2013 wrapped up in cotton wool, while the 24-year-old has been slow to build this year following another compromised pre-season.

AFL greats Brad Hardie, Tony Shaw and Scott Lucas have been among a growing band of critics to question Naitanui's true value.

But if the gamble pays off, West Coast will be richly rewarded.

Naitanui's 360-degree tap work is unrivalled, while his aerial supremacy and ground-ball antics makes him one of the league's most dangerous players.

The 2012 All-Australian is confident he is on the upward trend, saying he feels the best he has all year and is ready to hit peak form in the second half of the season.

Naitanui also declared it was a no-brainer to re-sign with the Eagles until the end of 2019 on a deal believed to be worth in the vicinity of $800,000 per year.

"I was always going to stay for as long as I can," Naitanui said.

"I love the club. It's like a family. The day I got drafted here, I was the happiest person on Earth.

"This group we have now is a very talented group. I see us heading in an upward direction and having a lot of success."

Sydney took the biggest gamble in recent memory when they signed former Hawk Lance Franklin on a nine-year, $10 million deal.

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