AFL 2013 team preview: Fremantle

19 March 2013

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Fremantle Final Fremantle were very solid performers last season, reaching the semi-final stage under new coach Ross Lyon. The Dockers daring play of recent years was transformed and replaced by Lyon’s well renowned defensive style. It took some time for the players to adapt, but the latter stages of 2012 showed glimpses of a strong Fremantle future.

They picked up talented running midfielder Danyle Pearce from Port Adelaide during the free agency period, as well as several highly touted draftees. Oliver Wines, pick seven in the 2012 national draft, looks like a ready-made star, while hard-bodied defender Tanner Smith could also prove to be a worthwhile acquisition at pick 36.

Moving the ball more quickly and effectively across the wide expanses of Patersons Stadium will be a major focus for the Dockers. Captain Matthew Pavlich remains the focal point up forward, while talented midfielder Nathan Fyfe and ball-magnet Michael Barlow could be quality contributors if they can eradicate injury concerns.

The Dockers comprehensively outplayed 2011 premiers Geelong in the elimination final, claiming their first ever finals success in Melbourne. The victory was a big step in the club’s development, but making Patersons Stadium a fortress is equally important in pushing for a finals place. Winning the majority of their 12 home games would all but guarantee September action.


Key Player: Aaron Sandilands

Sandilands is the biggest asset to Fremantle’s team. At 30 years of age, the giant 211cm ruckman is the league’s tallest player and a nightmare to try and stop.

A toe injury debilitated his 2012 season and restricted him to only 14 games, but he still managed to get 528 hitouts (8th overall) despite an interrupted campaign. Fremantle won nine of the 15 games that Sandilands played.

His capacity to get first hands on the ball is unsurprising given his size, but having an impact around the ground and being involved when the ball hits the deck is what separates Sandilands from most monsters.

Expected to miss the first month of the season due to a hamstring strain, it will be interesting to see how Fremantle cope in his absence.


Circle it on the calendar: Round 16, West Coast v Fremantle

There is no bigger game for Western Australian supporters than the derby. The timing of the clash is notable, with the fierce rivals squaring off in a July fixture that could directly impact on finals positions, assuming both sides live up to expectations .

West Coast is a powerful unit, but Fremantle do possess an imposing record over their neighbours. The Dockers have won seven of the past ten derby’s, including the most recent by a whopping 65 points. There is always massive implications when West Coast and Fremantle meet in front of a packed Patersons Stadium.


2013 prediction: 5th – 7th

Fremantle has what it takes to go deep into September. However, they will need most pieces to fall into place. Sandilands, Pavlich and Luke McPharlin are quality but are all over 30, meaning that fresh legs and development of role players is required to improve last season’s performances.

The game plan is proven over a long period and was evident in 2012, with impressive victories against North Melbourne and Richmond. A home final is the primary goal, and they are certainly have the list to do so.


Nick Ciantar is a third year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter: @nick_saint13.