Best 22 analysis: Fremantle

Conor Roar Guru

By Conor, Conor is a Roar Guru


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    All the AFL lists are finalised for 2018, and now is the time to start investigating what each club’s best team looks like.

    This analysis won’t factor in injuries or early season suspension, as it is looking at the best team from the list each club has. This is my take on Fremantle’s best 22.

    Previous articles
    Adelaide’s Best 22
    Brisbane’s Best 22
    Carlton’s Best 22
    Collingwood’s Best 22
    Essendon’s Best 22

    Best 22
    B: Luke Ryan, Griffin Logue, Joel Hamling
    HB: Connor Blakely, Alex Pearce, Nathan Wilson
    C: Brad Hill, Nathan Fyfe, Stephen Hill
    HF: Michael Walters, Brennan Cox, David Mundy
    F: Hayden Ballantyne, Cam McCarthy, Brandon Matera
    Foll: Aaron Sandilands, Andrew Brayshaw, Lachie Neale
    I/C: Sean Darcy, Adam Cerra, Harley Bennell, Michael Johnson
    Depth: Danyle Pearce, Tom Sheridan, Mitch Crowden, Ethan Hughes, Hugh Dixon, Darcy Tucker, Matt Taberner, Shane Kersten, Tom North, Ed Langdon, Brady Grey, Lloyd Meek, Cam Sutcliffe, Lee Spurr, Michael Apeness, Sam Switkowski, Scott Jones, Bailey Banfield, Stefan Giro, Ryan Nyhuis, Taylin Duman, Luke Strnadica

    I had quite a few players to consider as key defenders inside defensive 50 for the Dockers such as Griffin Logue, Alex Pearce, Joel Hamling, Brennan Cox, Michael Johnson, and Ryan Nyhuis just to name some. In the end, I decided to go with a three-pronged defence, with Joel Hamling also able to play on some small forwards.

    Griffin Logue debuted in Round 3 last year and played thirteen games in his first season, showing plenty of potential. With another pre-season under his belt, and including the fact that the Dockers are going through a rebuild, expect Logue to play Round 1 and continue his development next year.

    Alex Pearce has had an injury-plagued career so far, but he too has shown plenty of potential, and will likely be a priority for the Dockers coaching and medical staff to get out on the field in 2018 to enhance his development.

    Former premiership Dog Joel Hamling had a career-best year last year, playing twenty-two games and taking 110 marks. Mature-aged draftee Luke Ryan had an impressive debut year, and should be a lock for the best 22 in 2018.

    Rebound king Nathan Wilson will provide plenty of attack coming out of the Dockers defence and will fit right in on the half-back line. Connor Blakely had a career best year last year in the midfield, however I couldn’t find a spot in the midfield for him, so I placed him across the half-back line to continue to develop his kicking and rebounding skills.

    Nathan Wilson GWS Giants AFL 2017

    (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

    The midfield looks incredibly promising. Monster veteran Aaron Sandilands is a fantastic ruckman, and when he’s not injured, he is still the number one ruck. However, he will face fierce competition from second-year player Sean Darcy.

    The Hill brothers, Stephen and Brad, play in the same team as wingmen on opposite sides of the ground. Stephen Hill, the older of the pair, is an important player for the Dockers and will continue to be next year, seeing as he showed no signs of slowing down. Brad Hill on the other hand had one of the best seasons of his short six-year career, winning the Dockers’ best and fairest, and given that he used to play in one of the best teams of the modern AFL era, he will provide valuable experience on the field for Fremantle in his time there.

    Skipper Nathan Fyfe looked in fine nick during the IRS, and Dockers fans will be hoping he can back to his Brownlow best and contend to be the best player in the league along with Dustin Martin and Patrick Dangerfield.

    Lachie Neale is a star in Ross Lyon’s team, and should have a spot as an on-baller open to him next year. He is extremely durable, given he has only had two seasons where he has played less than 20 games, which is a tick in favour of him over other options.

    2017 number two pick Andrew Brayshaw is expected to make an impact in his first year, and his known leadership qualities as a young player earn him a spot in the starting 18.

    The Fremantle forward has plenty of excitement and talent. Michael Walters had his season cut short by a PCL injury in 2017, but showed plenty of glimpses of what he may produce in the near future, including a 38-disposal, 6-goal game.

    Former skipper David Mundy is on the wrong side of 30, and I struggled to fit him in as an on-baller. He kicked the winning goal after the siren against Richmond last year, and will be able to interchange with Walters and Fyfe throughout games, hence why I placed him on the half-forward flank.

    Utility Brennan Cox finished off 2017 strongly with two goals, eleven disposals, and six hit-outs as a forward-ruck against Essendon in the final round, so I kept him in the forward line to provide the opportunity for him to further develop his forward craft.

    192cm key forward Cam McCarthy averaged just over a goal a game last year, and being a very promising key position forward, he earns the spot over other options available.

    Hayden Ballantyne is another on the wrong side of 30, but is still kicking more goals than games played, so he is in the forward six depending on injuries.

    Former Sun Brandon Matera was on track for forty or more goals in early 2017 before a foot injury derailed his season. Expect him to play, given the potential impact he could make to the side.

    Brandon Matera Gold Coast Suns AFL 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

    Young ruckman Sean Darcy showed plenty of potential across eight games in his first season, and is highly rated as Aaron Sandilands replacement for when he retires. Darcy and Sandilands are likely to switch between the ruck position when both of them are in the team and fully fit and firing, and will provide one of the best ruck combinations in the AFL.

    2017 number five pick Adam Cerra showed his talent for the Eastern Ranges in the TAC Cup and Vic Metro in the U18 Championships, and he seems likely to get plenty of opportunities in his first year at the club.

    Harley Bennell returned from injury to play his first two games for Fremantle in the final rounds of the season, and if fit and firing, he will be in the best 22 and hoping to find some form and potential that he showed before crossing over to the west.

    Veteran Michael Johnson remains in the team to interchange between the key position players in defence, and provide leadership and guidance to the youngsters in the back line.

    The unlucky players
    Tom Sheridan will be hoping to earn some more opportunities in 2018 than he did in 2017. Ethan Hughes had a career-best year last season, however he is probably more the twenty-third man following their trading spree during the 2017 trade period. Darcy Tucker is another player unlucky not be in the best 22 following a career-best year.

    Matt Taberner showed some good form late last season, and will be hoping to finally fulfill his potential in 2018. Shane Kersten played 20 games and kicked 24 goals last year, however he is on the outer of the best 22 following Brandon Matera’s recruitment and Walters’ and Ballantyne’s return from injury.

    Lee Spurr missed the end of the 2017 season with a calf injury and the Dockers’ focus on youth may make it difficult for him to regain a spot in the best side. Spurr will hope to find some games and play more than half of the season in the senior side.

    What do you think, Roarers? Do you agree with Fremantle’s best 22 for 2018?

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    The Crowd Says (50)

    • Roar Guru

      December 22nd 2017 @ 8:00am
      DingoGray said | December 22nd 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      I’d be interested in Don’s thoughts on this one as the expect on Freo,

      I know it’s probably semantics, but Bennell on the bench and Matera starting.
      I think Matera has been a cronic under performer for some time. And understanding
      Ross Lyon, I would imagine there would be some heavy expectation on earning his stripes.

      For me Matera is not yet in Freo Best 22. There is certainly the possibility of him getting there
      at some stage, but for me he’s probably in that 23-25 bracket.

      • December 22nd 2017 @ 4:41pm
        Don Freo said | December 22nd 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

        Matera himself has stated he knows he has work to do to get into that team. He showed promise at the start of last season but no more than Langdon, Tucker, Blakely, Logue, Hughes, Ryan…the players he has to displace.

        He has no hope of displacing Ballas or Sunny. He does have some promise as a young Danyle Pearce off a wing.

        Lee Spurr will be the interesting one. Just a great interceptor but he does turn over kicks and is a bit loose on opposing small forwards. Ryan and Hughes might have gone past him but his leadership is really important.

        Logue will blossom this season and could become a great swingman. He has midfield aspirations. That would be interesting.

        Mundy may well be a key forward if his recent interview was an indication. A forward line of Mundy and McCarthy, Ballas and Sunny then the rotation of Sandi, Darcy, Apeness and Tabs with Bennell and Fyfe…fantastic. The defence should be stable with the forward line shifting shape constantly. The midfield is simply unmatched by any club.

        • December 23rd 2017 @ 2:48am
          dontknowmuchaboutfootball said | December 23rd 2017 @ 2:48am | ! Report

          Interestingly, Spurr had the best disposal efficiency in the side over 2017. Admittedly, it’s easier to to chalk up effective disposals when a good third or more of your kicks are unpressured contributions to a switch across the back line, but if Spurr’s dropped, it won’t be owing to poor kicking.

        • January 28th 2018 @ 3:15pm
          bob said | January 28th 2018 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

          absurd comments re: balantyne

          has been utterly useless for years. matera will not only displace bala but bala will more than likely retire mid season. not up to it. hasn’t been for years.

    • Roar Guru

      December 22nd 2017 @ 9:23am
      Dalgety Carrington said | December 22nd 2017 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      If Harley Bennell is fit, he’s starting 18, no question at all. Langdon’s also likely to be in the 22 if he’s fit.

      In the 22 above Brayshaw, Cerra and Matera are all in there on potential at this stage, but might struggle to keep out Langdon, Hughes Tucker and Grey to start the year. You’d also think Spurr would at least begin the year in the team as might Taberner.

      • December 22nd 2017 @ 1:11pm
        Jon boy said | December 22nd 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

        DC-Spurr,who in conor’s team would he replace ? Ross will play him round 1 we all know his love for the old, i do not think he is best 22 good backup if injuries arrive I would like Taberner as FWD back up ruck but with Ross playing 2 Rucks pushes him out

        • December 23rd 2017 @ 12:32pm
          Don Freo said | December 23rd 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

          His “love for the old” is a myth in your mind only.

          You only need to look at more than half of the side having played less than 50 games to know how silly you sound constantly claiming that.

    • December 22nd 2017 @ 9:44am
      Mattician6x6 said | December 22nd 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report

      I’m expecting freo to bolt up the ladder on the back of fyfe winning a second brownlow, somewhere between 6-10 in another tight year in the afl. Lloyd has brought in the cattle and whether or not ppl like Ross his coaching has runs on the board and players do buy into it as proved at saints and freo. The spearwoodians are on the right track and will surprise in 2018.

      • December 22nd 2017 @ 11:24am
        Don Freo said | December 22nd 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report


        • December 22nd 2017 @ 4:52pm
          Mattician6x6 said | December 22nd 2017 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

          There is a cream for that don 😉

          • December 22nd 2017 @ 5:43pm
            Don Freo said | December 22nd 2017 @ 5:43pm | ! Report


            • December 23rd 2017 @ 10:10am
              Mattician6x6 said | December 23rd 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

              If I’m gonna get lubricated I’m a beer man don : D

    • Roar Guru

      December 22nd 2017 @ 10:35am
      AdelaideDocker said | December 22nd 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

      Pretty good attempt! Dalgety’s said what I was thinking, as well. Bennell, if fit, will almost definitely be starting 18.

      Langdon + Tucker are probably more likely to be in a round 1 squad than Cerra + Brayshaw, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that latter duo get some early games.

      I’m also not sure whether Pearce will be 100% ready to head straight back into the team – if he is, great, but if he isn’t I’d expect to see Johnson take his spot.

      • December 22nd 2017 @ 12:17pm
        Jon boy said | December 22nd 2017 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

        AD i think you are right about Pearce after 2 years out he will probably need 3-4 games at Peel but obviously best 22

    • December 22nd 2017 @ 10:42am
      Don Freo said | December 22nd 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

      Matera is not in Freo’s best 30 players. He could be if he ever tried to be. He is now in the right club to maximize his ability.

      Bennell will be a driver of this team and will be high up in every B&F award in the country.

      Michael Johnson is a certainty in the starting 18 and Darcy Tucker will go through the midfield this year. Can’t wait for Apeness to be out there. He is already clunking them at training. Great fun hearing the boys talk about him on the Freo website.

      This is such a strong squad with the injured dozen back and available that our bottom 6 players start at about 28.-34.

      • Roar Guru

        December 22nd 2017 @ 11:21am
        Cat said | December 22nd 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

        Your take on Matera sounds an awful lot like your take on Colin Silvia when Freo picked him up. We all know how well Freo turned his career around too.

        • December 22nd 2017 @ 11:54am
          Jon boy said | December 22nd 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

          There is no Problem with Matera……Only one person i know thinks he has ……Haselby and McManusand plenty of other good judges have spoken highly of him.

        • Roar Guru

          December 22nd 2017 @ 12:01pm
          Dalgety Carrington said | December 22nd 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

          Can’t vouch for what Don said about Sylvia, but the difference in their circumstances coming into the club are further apart than chalk and cheese.

          Sylvia came in thinking he had already proved himself and was looking for a pre-retirement cash in via FA looking to ride on the coat tails to finals and contention. Matera on the other hand has acknowledged he has a lot to prove and is coming back to his home state as he comes into his theoretical prime years to claim a spot in a rebuilding team.

        • December 22nd 2017 @ 2:39pm
          Don Freo said | December 22nd 2017 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

          Yep . It’s up to Matera to decide if he wants a career. Sylvia made a choice to cruise. Freo said, “Not here, you don’t.”

          • December 22nd 2017 @ 2:56pm
            Jon boy said | December 22nd 2017 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

            But he Did…….And got the cash !

            • December 22nd 2017 @ 4:46pm
              Don Freo said | December 22nd 2017 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

              Well, he didn’t. He was moved on. How many games do you think he played?

              • December 22nd 2017 @ 5:28pm
                Jon boy said | December 22nd 2017 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

                He got the cash-That was all he wanted,!

          • Roar Guru

            December 22nd 2017 @ 6:44pm
            Cat said | December 22nd 2017 @ 6:44pm | ! Report

            So much for being the club to ‘maximise his talent’.

            • December 23rd 2017 @ 12:28am
              Don Freo said | December 23rd 2017 @ 12:28am | ! Report


      • December 22nd 2017 @ 12:22pm
        truetigerfan said | December 22nd 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

        Trophies for everyone at the Dockers next year. Freo Auskickers?

        • Roar Guru

          December 22nd 2017 @ 2:32pm
          Dalgety Carrington said | December 22nd 2017 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

          lol Good for you ttf, get in while you still can.

    • December 22nd 2017 @ 11:47am
      Jon boy said | December 22nd 2017 @ 11:47am | ! Report

      Well done conor everyone will differ,good backline only change i would have Hughes there and release Blakely in the mid field.Lyon will play both Sandi and Darcy but it will not work Noah’s Arc stuff Every chance Sandi will break down anyway. No way Ballantyne plays before Tucker and Langdon he is not in the best 32 there is a 90 % chance he will break down so that makes it easier.