West Coast will take a careful approach with ruckman Nic Naitanui in his first hitout of the pre-season when the Eagles clash with Fremantle in a practice match at Patersons Stadium on Thursday night.

A lack of game time during the pre-season may leave new Eagles coach Adam Simpson with no choice but to leave Naitanui out of the side's round-one clash with the Western Bulldogs on March 23.

Naitanui will make his first appearance since the round 17 home clash against Sydney on July 21 last year. He was restricted to just 11 games in 2013 due to groin problems.

Importantly, the clash against the Dockers is also the first time Simpson will have the chance to see Naitanui under match-day conditions, playing his new game plan, alongside new teammates.

''I'm not super-keen to throw him in the deep end first game up,'' Simpson said.

''We'll just see how the game evolves. See how he's feeling. Like I said, the expectations are really low in terms of how he rucks. We just want to get him out there and playing to our system and adapting to some new teammates.''