West Coast superstar Nic Naitanui helping developing tall Callum Jamieson face best ruckmen in the AFL
Developing ruckman Callum Jamieson has praised the influence of West Coast star Nic Naitanui in helping him face some of the biggest names — and bodies — in the AFL during the infancy of his career.
The 21-year-old, who battled Melbourne premiership duo Max Gawn and Luke Jackson on Sunday, said Naitanui had been a great mentor as the three-gamer steps up to fill the ruck void alongside Bailey Williams, Luke Strnadica and Hugh Dixon.
“Nic’s been real helpful with all us young rucks,” Jamieson said.
“Obviously, he’s not on the track at the moment, but he’s in all the meetings, he’s one of the best in the business, and he gives a lot of help to us young boys.
“Just his knowledge around the game. He’s come up against a lot of these ruckmen, so he knows a lot of these ruckmen inside and out… it’s really helpful.”
The Claremont product said it was “unreal” to get an opportunity to play at the top level.
“It was tough, but it was a good experience to learn against the best in business (in Gawn and Jackson),” he said.
“I enjoyed it, and there’s a lot to learn. You always back yourself in, and you’re always trying to get the ball to your teammates. I backed myself in and got over a couple - he won his fair share too.”
Jamieson said adjusting to the bigger bodies at the elite level, compared to those in the WAFL, was the biggest challenge he faced in his first couple of weeks as a dedicated ruckman — and what he found most challenging against Gawn.
“He’s a big fella,” Jamieson admitted.
While the 74-point loss was not the ideal result for West Coast, Jamieson revealed the club is trying to look on the bright side.
“We thought there was definitely positive signs coming out of the weekend,” he said.
“I think some young boys are getting opportunities with the injuries we’ve had.
“It sucks having so many injuries to such senior players, but it does give opportunities for young fellas.
“We saw Westy (Connor West) have a ripper game on the weekend and young fellas like Bailey (Williams) and myself come in.”
The Eagles face GWS on Sunday in the club’s first game under caretaker coach Mark McVeigh, after Leon Cameron coached his final game for the Giants in their loss to Carlton over the weekend.
“We’re preparing for GWS at their best, and their best is real good,” Jamieson said.
“It’s tough, but we go about each week trying to win. I think if that’s your focus each week, the performance kind of takes care of itself. This week against the Giants, we’re going over to win.”
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