Eagles receive help from pricey ruck coach

Nic Naitanui is playing a key role in West Coast's premiership tilt despite a season-ending injury.
Nic Naitanui is playing a key role in West Coast's premiership tilt despite a season-ending injury.

West Coast have a secret weapon to combat Collingwood big man Brodie Grundy in Saturday's grand final - the most expensive ruck coach in AFL history.

Eagles pair Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy performed admirably against sore Demons ruckman Max Gawn in last week's preliminary final win.

But the duo face an even bigger task to quell Grundy, who has been the form ruckman of the AFL finals.

Grundy monstered Richmond's Toby Nankervis last week, tallying 56 hitouts, 21 disposals and a goal in a shock 39-point win.

Against West Coast in the qualifying final, Grundy finished with 48 hitouts, five clearances and 18 possessions in an effort that almost lifted his team over the line.

Vardy and Lycett have been receiving help from a new member of West Coast's coaching staff in recent weeks - none other than Nic Naitanui.

The star ruckman suffered a season-ending knee injury in round 17, but he's doing everything he can to ensure Lycett and Vardy will be ready to curb the influence of Grundy.

"He's the most expensive ruck coach in the history of the AFL," Simpson said with a chuckle about Naitanui, who earns more than a million dollars a season.

"Nic's been working with our rucks the last few weeks. He's really invested in that. He's doing a really good job.

"He's got really good experience with every ruckman in the comp, so we'd be silly not to use him as a resource."

Suspended midfielder Andrew Gaff and injured defender Brad Sheppard have also been helping mentor teammates in their respective areas.

The duo were also in the coaches' box during the preliminary final win over Melbourne.

Simpson said it was important to include Naitanui, Sheppard and Gaff as much as possible to help them feel a part of West Coast's premiership charge.

The Eagles have been installed as underdogs for the grand final despite beating Collingwood on both previous occasions this season.

Australian Associated Press