Nic Naitanui sweating on long-term deal as he meets with manager this week

Nic Naitanui has enjoyed a better return from a second knee reconstruction and is poised to return to field. But the star ruckman also has a key off-field call to make.

Nic Naitanui says he will play about 70 minutes of game time in his WAFL return as he sweats on whether to sign a new deal that offers long-term security.

The West Coast star has had a vastly better return from his second knee reconstruction than his 2016 rupture and could make an AFL return against Hawthorn next week.

He will meet with his management this week in Perth and also has a decision to make about his contract.

He could accept a three-year deal on vastly reduced terms to his $1 million-a-year deal or hold out until later in the year and prove his worth to the club.

The ball is in his court, with Naitanui just 29 and footy’s most marketable player but having played only 30 games since the start of 2016.

He will hope to make a seamless WAFL return before rolling into AFL action with only a single state-league game.

“It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve done it before a few years ago,” Naitanui said.

“I know the steps that need to be done, but I’m excited to get back out there and play some footy.

“I don’t have too many more nerves or worries at all. It’s exactly the team I played last time in East Fremantle. It’s the same ground, and it’s going to be a similar build-up.”

At Fremantle Harley Bennell continues to push for an incredible AFL recall after his third WAFL game for Peel Thunder.

Bennell was named second best for Peel in a last gasp loss, but it was the quietest of his three games so far.

He had 30 possessions and two goals in return, then 25 possessions against Subiaco, then had 11 possessions and two goals against South Fremantle.

At the Dockers David Mundy is determined to play on next year despite turning 34 next month as he continues his superb form.

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