Grief almost put Naitanui into retirement

Nic Naitanui has revealed how the death of his mother nearly tipped him into retiring from the AFL.
Nic Naitanui has revealed how the death of his mother nearly tipped him into retiring from the AFL.

West Coast star Nic Naitanui has revealed he toyed with early AFL retirement as he dealt with the devastating death of his mother.

With the Eagles flying in 2015, Naitanui was rocked by losing his mum Atetha just a month before that year's finals series.

The dual All-Australian told the Ordineroli Speaking podcast that his grief made him examine everything in his life.

"The biggest thing in my life was to impress my mum and to help her live a better life because she sacrificed so much," Naitanui said in a wide-ranging interview with sports broadcaster Neroli Meadows.

"My biggest goal and biggest drive was to give her and the rest of my family a better life and I had to find new reasons and avenues to motivate myself.

"I weighed up whether it was worth playing footy anymore and whether it was worth doing what I do.

"What's the point of doing it if I haven't got my mum there."

Naitanui returned for the 2015 finals series as West Coast qualified for the decider against Hawthorn.

But the Eagles were thrashed by the rampaging Hawks in the grand final, and Naitanui says he still feels "guilty" about how he played.

"My brother came to my hotel room (after the grand final parade) - we talked, we cried and I probably had maybe two hours of sleep before the grand final," he said.

"I sometimes get angry. When you talk about mental demons, I still feel a bit selfish for that because I didn't have the ideal preparation.

"It wasn't until after (the grand final) I felt this wave of emotion come across me and I just sat in the change rooms crying.

"I lost a cousin earlier that year and having to bury my mum and the loss of a grand final it was all sitting there. It all came upon me."

The 30-year-old missed West Coast's 2018 premiership due to a knee injury but says he is more determined than ever to play in a winning grand final with the Eagles.

Australian Associated Press