West Coast coach Adam Simpson fears explosive power players like Nic Naitanui could be driven out of the game following a spate of rule changes.

The AFL’s reduction in interchanges from 90 to 75 – combined with a more frenetic style of play with the statue-on-the-mark rule – has made it hard for bigger and explosive players to keep up.

The Eagles face a unique challenge with Naitanui, who has undergone two knee reconstructions and generally plays around 60 per cent of game time.

West Coast like to employ Naitanui in spurts to gain the maximum advantage from his explosiveness.

But that tactic requires more interchanges than normal – something that is becoming harder to do after the limit was lowered to 75.

“The danger I suppose for these less rotations is if they keep cutting it back and the game’s length stays the same, players like Nic will be hard to keep in the game,” Simpson said.

“The endurance players will step up and we’ll get what we get.

“I suppose it’s good Nic is getting it at the back-end of his career and not at the start, because it would be difficult to keep up with the game.

“I’m sure he’d adapt, but it would be more of a challenge.”

Simpson predicts the rule changes will have a significant flow-on effect for the type of players clubs recruit.

“When you change the rules, it’s a short-term change you see, but it goes all the way down to list management and what you need to recruit,” he said.

“If it’s going to trend this way, we’re going to have to look at the type of players you draft. Power athletes, repeat speed (athletes) who need multiple rotations to keep that energy might have to change and adapt to the rules.”

The Eagles will be back in action on Sunday when they take on the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium.

West Coast are still without star onballers Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo, and the Eagles will confront a Bulldogs midfield unit featuring stars such as Adam Treloar, Josh Dunkley, Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Bailey Smith, Lachie Hunter, and Tom Liberatore

“I think they’re a top-four side. Arguably the best midfield in the competition,” Simpson said.

“I think there’s plenty of belief there.”

Simpson said stopping Bontempelli would be particularly difficult.

“He’s got everything,” Simpson said.

“And he’s starting to hit the scoreboard as well. We’ve got to put a lot of work into him. But if you do that, it just frees up so many others. It’s part of their strength, the collective.”

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