If anyone out there is sick of hearing about Nic Naitanui’s knee, spare a thought for the man himself.
The returning ruckman was at Optus Stadium on Saturday night for the National Rugby League double-header.
He was coming off his first game of football in more than 18 months, a WAFL practice game between East Perth and East Fremantle on Saturday.
You might think rugby league fans would have little interest in asking him how he pulled up after the game.
Speaking exclusively to Channel 7, he took a guess at how many times he was asked about his knee.
“One thousand times, I reckon,” Naitanui said.
“Not even joking either. One thousand times.”
For the record, he said he pulled up pretty well.
Immediately after the game he went for a run at a nearby oval to work on his fitness.
It was only a scratch match, but for Naitanui, it felt much more meaningful.
Once he is playing regularly, he expects the intense focus on his knee to subside.
“Most people hate talking or hearing about themselves,” he said.
“Hearing about my knee, I guess it’s the most talked about knee that I’ve ever heard of. I don’t know anyone else’s knee that’s got this much exposure.”
The security guards who escorted Naitanui into the ground on Saturday were an example of the fanfare surrounding his comeback.
But the 27-year-old remains grounded, pointing out that his friends all watched the Swan Districts game instead.
Naitanui was impressed with 21-year-old East Fremantle ruckman Michael Cronan.
He said he was instructed by West Coast coaching staff to use his body more and rely less on his leap. He stuck to that plan, for the most part, though he was spurred on by some of the banter coming from the sidelines.
“I could hear some of the East Fremantle boys who used to play here at West Coast getting into me from the stands and heckling me so I started getting into it once the game started flowing,” he said.
West Coast will sit down with Naitanui today to discuss the next step in his return, possibly another WAFL scratch match this weekend.
He said he would love to run out for the Eagles in round one at Optus Stadium on March 25, but he would not cut corners in the final weeks of such a long rehabilitation program.