Eagle Vardy urged to take more AFL marks

With just three contested grabs across eight games, more is expected of Eagle Nathan Vardy (right).
With just three contested grabs across eight games, more is expected of Eagle Nathan Vardy (right).

West Coast ruckman Nathan Vardy has been set the challenge to take more contested marks as the premiership big man attempts to avoid the axe.

Vardy has averaged just six possessions per game this season and is yet to kick a goal.

But even more worrying is his lack of marks, with the former Cat taking just three contested grabs across eight games.

It's significantly lower than last year, when he took 12 contested marks in 10 games.

With star ruckman Nic Naitanui set to return after the round 13 bye, Vardy is running out of time to prove he should be the club's preferred second ruckman ahead of Tom Hickey.

Hickey is set to miss the next two weeks with an ankle injury, giving Vardy valuable time to prove his worth.

"He's been rucking a lot more this year than he has the last, so that's a different role," Eagles coach Adam Simpson said of Vardy.

"And it's his first year really as a starting ruckman. So I've got a little bit of patience.

"But having said that, nothing's been locked in with him either.

"I don't think he's playing at his best at the moment. He's the first to admit that.

"He's probably just missing out on a couple of opportunities to take a few contested marks, whereas he was probably good for one or two a game and a couple of shots (last year)."

West Coast will make at least three changes for Saturday's clash with the Crows in Adelaide.

Simpson confirmed Daniel Venables would miss two weeks with a serious concussion, while Hickey (ankle) and Lewis Jetta (suspended) also go out of the side.

Will Schofield will slot straight back in after being a late withdrawal last week, while Jackson Nelson, Brendon Ah Chee, Jarrod Cameron, Josh Rotham, and Jake Waterman are others in the mix to play.

Simpson has been pleased with Naitanui's progress from his second knee reconstruction, but said the big man wouldn't return before the bye.

"The fact he's knocking on the door is great," Simpson said.

"That's probably the last tick-off. Now it's getting that last couple of weeks of training up.

"When he's available, the decision will be whether to play him in the WAFL or seniors."

Australian Associated Press