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Aussie Rules

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Eagles-Pies AFL ruck battle to be a ripper

The Nic Naitanui comeback fairytale will receive its toughest test to date when he confronts All-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy on Friday night.

Naitanui has been in hot form since making his return from a second knee reconstruction, playing key roles in West Coast's wins against Hawthorn and Fremantle.

His dominance in the ruck last week helped West Coast score 12 goals to nil in stoppages in their 91-point demolition of Fremantle.

Grundy earned his maiden All-Australian jumper last year, and holds the key to Collingwood's hopes of ending a two-game losing run.

Naitanui played just 52 per cent of game time last week, and is set to feature for a similar amount against Collingwood.

But with back-up ruckman Tom Hickey also in strong form, West Coast are confident they have the ruck power to combat Grundy.

Collingwood have lost four in a row against West Coast, and will start as underdogs on Friday night at Optus Stadium.

The Magpies will slip two wins behind second-placed West Coast if they lose.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has been concerned by his team's drop in form in recent weeks, and is demanding a response.

Buckley axed Matthew Scharenberg, Josh Thomas, and Josh Daicos from the team that lost to Hawthorn by four points last week.

Into the side come Levi Greenwood, John Noble, and Ben Crocker.

West Coast welcome back two-time Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy and Tom Cole.

Brendon Ah Chee (calf) and Liam Duggan (ankle) go out of the side.

--End of article--

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