Three-time All-Australian ruckman and West Coast star Nic Naitanui will have season-ending Achilles surgery, in a devastating blow to his playing future and a major setback for his struggling team.

Naitanui is contracted for next season, but aged 33, with few games under his belt in recent years and with the bottom-placed Eagles in desperate need of a rebuild, the inevitable question is whether this is the end of his career.

Eagles coach Adam Simpson insisted Naitanui can come back from the surgery.

But he said a recent scan made it clear his Achilles hadn’t recovered as hoped and surgery could not be avoided.

“We had a follow up scan recently and it looks like he’s going to need surgery now, so it’s time to pull the pin on the season and get that surgery that he needs, so it’s a long term one,” Simpson said.

Nic Naitanui hasn’t managed a game in 2023, and just eight last season. ()

“I’m not fully across the magnitude of the surgery but I know it’s something you can recover from and fully recover.

“It’s a long stint out. So therefore, the season’s out of question.

“It’s something you can come back from.”

Simpson said he hoped it was not the last time Naitanui would take to the field with the Eagles.

“Hopefully, we get this right and he can work through the rehab, and we see him next year,” he said.

“It’s been unfortunate this year … and he had an interrupted year last year, and this came out of the blue a little bit preseason.

“So it’s something I think you can get over, for sure.”

Not the first major setback

It is not the first-time serious injury has struck the ruckman.

Naitanui previously ruptured his left ACL during the 2016 season and missed the entirety of the following year.

He injured his right ACL in 2018 and spent almost another year on the sidelines.

Nic Naitanui was taken with pick number two in the 2008 AFL Draft. ()

Injuries to both knees limited him to just eight games last season.

Simpson said Naitanui was now unavailable for the rest of the year.

“All this stuff, it’s difficult to manage and it’s sometimes hard to see the positive,” he said.

“But we are learning a lot about our list. Our younger players are getting really good exposure.

“So in the long run, it will pay us back it just it just hurts at the moment.”

dan