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AFL preview series: Fremantle Dockers – 15th

Cameron Rose Columnist

By Cameron Rose, Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert

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225 Have your say

    Ross Lyon sides always seem to be about Ross Lyon, more than other teams seem to be about their coaches.

    He’s always been such a divisive person within the football world, all stemming from a combination of respect he’s held in, yet with no premiership to back it up, and game-plans that have almost always been seen as stifling, negative and joyless.

    He is reaching a cross-roads in his coaching career, and if things don’t improve over the next 12-24 months, the Dockers gig will probably be the last senior AFL job he ever has.

    B: Luke Ryan Joel Hamling Ethan Hughes
    HB: Nathan Wilson Alex Pearce Michael Johnson
    C: Brad Hill Nat Fyfe Stephen Hill
    HF: David Mundy Shane Kersten Michael Walters
    F: Hayden Ballantyne Cam McCarthy Brandon Matera
    Foll: Aaron Sandilands Connor Blakely Lachie Neale
    Int: Sean Darcy Darcy Tucker Harley Bennell Andrew Brayshaw
    Em: Matt Taberner Adam Cerra Brady Grey

    Fremantle are on the rebuild, but they have more than enough talent to get people excited about watching them play. And they’re not that young – the Dockers are ranked ninth in games experience, and 11th in age.

    They have a number of attacking weapons, but can Ross Lyon harness them? Outside play has been Freo’s achilles heel in recent times, but they have addressed that with additions to the list.

    Ross Lyon Fremantle Dockers AFL 2017

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Nathan Wilson has been brought in to provide run and drive off half-back, something Freo have been missing in recent seasons. Wilson is one of the best kicks in the game, but needs to be fed the ball. At GWS, he had Heath Shaw and Zac Williams alongside him as primary ball users from defence, but they both had more strings to their bow than Wilson does.

    In the last two years, Wilson has averaged 12-14 kicks per match, but he has to get that number up to 20+ at the Dockers to become a truly notable player. At the moment, he’s just a nice one.

    Michael Johnson is still important, despite being one of the oldest players in the league, but is more of a role player these days. The rest of the backline is basically populated by guys that are mature-aged but still somewhat light on for AFL experience. Hope is still held out that Alex Pearce can return and fulfil his early promise.

    Old hands like Lee Spurr and Cameron Sutcliffe should start falling behind in the pecking order now, and Tom Sheridan is at the crossroads. Does that Cyril Rioli goal in the 2015 preliminary final still haunt him?

    The midfield is where Fremantle can win games, if they can click together on a regular basis.

    Nat Fyfe shouldn’t be forgotten in the conversations about Dustin Martin and Patrick Dangerfield. Completely over his 2016 leg injury, he’s ready to hit a new peak in the prime of his career after a strong finish to 2017.

    Apart from contested marking, Lachie Neale’s stats don’t lose much when measured against Fyfe’s, and it might surprise many to learn that Neale actually won 19 more clearances than Fyfe from the same amount of games last year. This can be attributed to Fyfe spending more time forward than Neale, but they form a formidable duo.

    Aaron Sandilands will be feeding the ball down to both Fyfe and Neale, forming a lethal clearance combination with both, but even if the veteran big man goes down, the boy-giant Sean Darcy looks primed to take his place. Ross Lyon has hinted that both will be played together at different stages too.

    The Hill brothers, Stephen and Brad, will run the wings but don’t do enough damage, particularly when impacting the scoreboard. They only kicked 17 goals between them last year, and need to get that up closer to 40 – especially given the forward-line is weak and midfield goals are valuable.

    Connor Blakely has made great strides every year, and looks ready to take on even more responsibility this season with the departure of Lachie Weller. He’ll be a bridging young midfielder, a conduit between the established stars like Fyfe and Neale, and the new draftees Andrew Brayshaw and Adam Cerra. Darcy Tucker is another young mid who will be looking to make a leap after two years on the list.

    Up forward, a lot falls on the shoulders of Cam McCarthy. He was okay last year, without being exceptional, but should improve again after missing a year of football in 2016. Is he going to reach great heights, or is he one-dimensional like a Simon Minton-Connell who was a lead, mark, kick player, and needed an open forward 50?

    Cam McCarthy Fremantle Dockers AFL 2017

    (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    The problem is the Dockers almost never have an open forward-line because of their stodgy ball movement.

    Michael Walters has made his name as a forward, but showed that he could be a damaging midfielder last year, and should be playing at least two-thirds of the time in that part of the ground.

    The recruitment of Brandon Matera from the Suns hints that this is a probable scenario. David Mundy continues to be Mr Reliable, even after a role change last year which saw him spend more time forward.

    With Fyfe, Neale, Walters, Mundy, Wilson and the Hill brothers delivering the ball into the forward half of the ground and inside 50, there should be no excuses. If Ross Lyon doesn’t release the shackles and let them go, then it could be the beginning of the end for him, if not the end of the end.

    Given Fremantle’s tall forwards aren’t flash, and like we’ve been asking of other bottom teams, does Ross Lyon follow in the Richmond lead? Can Lee Spurr be re-deployed as a pressure specialist up forward after years as a back pocket plumber?

    Perhaps McCarthy is the traditional tall, David Mundy to play as a secondary marking target, or Nat Fyfe when he’s resting there, and then use a mix of Hayden Ballantyne, Brady Grey, Matera, Spurr, and mature-age small forward recruit Sam Switkowski to chase, harass and tackle.

    And then we have Harley Bennell. Will he end up being worth all the trouble? It’s getting harder to be optimistic as each week goes by, when news frequently surfaces of an off-field incident or a new injury.

    Harley Bennell Fremantle Dockers AFL 2016 tall

    (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

    There are interesting times ahead for Fremantle. They are in a rebuild, but with a list profile that does not lean particularly young. They have addressed key weaknesses with their recruits from other clubs in the last two years, but have also added three top eight picks in the last two drafts.

    Is there a way for Ross Lyon to implement a game plan that can both deliver more wins and give the fans something to cheer? They’ve got a prickly opening nine rounds to contend with, where they will probably start favourite only once. Let’s see what they’ve got.

    Prediction: 15th

    Cam Rose ladder prediction
    15. Fremantle
    16. Brisbane17. Carlton18. Gold Coast Suns

    Cameron Rose
    Cameron Rose

    Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for there's nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.

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    The Crowd Says (225)

    • February 23rd 2018 @ 7:21am
      PeteB said | February 23rd 2018 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      Haha feels like you’re just trying to wind people up now. North ?

      • February 23rd 2018 @ 7:32am
        I ate pies said | February 23rd 2018 @ 7:32am | ! Report

        No doubt Josh’s influence. Those of us without blue and white glasses on have them at 17th at best.

        • Columnist

          February 23rd 2018 @ 7:58am
          Cameron Rose said | February 23rd 2018 @ 7:58am | ! Report

          Believe me guys, anyone who knows me knows I’m an avowed North hater from way back. 😉

        • Roar Guru

          February 23rd 2018 @ 11:05am
          JamesH said | February 23rd 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

          North lacks star power but they have some reasonable depth and promising young talent. Surely they’re next on this list though.

        • Editor

          February 23rd 2018 @ 12:00pm
          Josh Elliott said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

          Yes, I’ve had it written into every writer’s contract this year that they must tip North to win the flag.

    • February 23rd 2018 @ 7:31am
      I ate pies said | February 23rd 2018 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      Let’s hope that Ross Lyon never has another AFL coaching gig. No-one wrecks footy like Ross.

      • Roar Pro

        February 23rd 2018 @ 9:24am
        anon said | February 23rd 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

        What hasn’t been mentioned is that Optus Stadium is wide that Subiaco Oval.

        Rossy’s zonal defence won’t be as effective (not that it has been effective for the past couple years).

        Good coaches adapt. We’ll see what he’s made of.

        • Roar Guru

          February 23rd 2018 @ 11:18am
          Dalgety Carrington said | February 23rd 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          Freo lost only one game in Melbourne last year where the grounds are quite similar dimensions to the new stadium and their recent record at the MCG has actually been more than solid. Care to try again?

          • Roar Pro

            February 23rd 2018 @ 1:07pm
            anon said | February 23rd 2018 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

            Those wins were close, lucky wins that came during a purple patch in the wake of the crisis the club was in after round 2.

            Rossy was forced to drop his mates and bring youth into the squad.

            Over time Rossy brought his favourite vets back into the team and the team’s second half of the year was a total disaster.

            • Roar Guru

              February 23rd 2018 @ 2:00pm
              Dalgety Carrington said | February 23rd 2018 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

              Full of your usual (heavily jaundiced) interpretation there anon.

              Fact is, free from your selective layering, Freo won 3 out of 4 in Melbourne last year (and pushed an Essendon playing for a spot in the finals when Freo were on a hiding to nothing, right to the closing stages). The majority of those victories came against some pretty handy opposition in Richmond and Melbourne too.

              Which suggests they play those wider grounds pretty well, even if you account for any ideas of being “lucky”.

        • February 23rd 2018 @ 1:26pm
          I ate pies said | February 23rd 2018 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

          He’s made of the same thing no matter what the occasion or what the team. He’s more one dimensional than John Longmire.

          • Roar Guru

            February 23rd 2018 @ 4:47pm
            Paul Dawson said | February 23rd 2018 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

            Well, you are the expert on being one dimensional

    • Editor

      February 23rd 2018 @ 7:32am
      Josh Elliott said | February 23rd 2018 @ 7:32am | ! Report

      Cam, given you’ve finished off the bottom four without us making an appearance, that means you’re actually tipping North to finish higher than I am this year. I’m very uncomfortable with this state of affairs and you should be too.

      Fremantle seem like such a mis-match of coach and personnel to me. So much exciting, hard-running talent like the Hills, Walters and maybe someday Bennell, but stuck in a gameplan where we never get to the see the best of it. As you point out, they’re not actually that young, and I think the ‘rebuild’ is essentially over, except for the persistent lack of a centrepiece key forward, but what else is new?

      • Columnist

        February 23rd 2018 @ 8:01am
        Cameron Rose said | February 23rd 2018 @ 8:01am | ! Report

        Haha, this is a remarkable state of affairs. I think North has the friendliest draw of the bottom five, which is why I’ve got them a bit higher. Fremantle has the hardest I reckon.

        It’s a good point about the mis-match, but I guess we get to see if Ross can release the shackles a bit. The problem is the backline looks a bit plain, and he won’t want to expose them. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they’ve got this year. I hope they challenge for the eight (while I hope North loses every game by 60+ points).

        • Roar Guru

          February 23rd 2018 @ 8:07am
          AdelaideDocker said | February 23rd 2018 @ 8:07am | ! Report

          “(while I hope North loses every game by 60+ points).”

          Eeeeeek, that could be the end of your career if Josh has anything to say about it 😉

          I’m kidding. I think.

        • February 23rd 2018 @ 9:34am
          Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 9:34am | ! Report

          Yeah I don’t get the love for North, they lost 3 players who played 16 or more games for them last year (Gibson Mullett & Swallow) plus Hansen who played 13 and had just 2 picks in the first 3 rounds of the draft and traded no one in.

          An easy draw may offset it but from memory it turned out that Carlton Brisbane (and possibly Freo) were up towards the top of the hardest draw of 2017 despite low finishes in 2016, which shows that draws aren’t always what they seem pre-season and North aren’t the only ones whose draw will get easier.

          • Columnist

            February 23rd 2018 @ 10:33am
            Cameron Rose said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:33am | ! Report

            All good points as always Macca. I know that draws can change (heaps of teams would have been pencilling in Richmond as an easy win last year), but I’m pretty confident on who the bottom five will be. North plays more of them than any other team, which I think will help.

            You’ll probably be right. I haven’t written my North preview yet, so I’m going to have to think up something convincing for Monday!

            • February 23rd 2018 @ 10:37am
              Don Freo said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

              Interested to see what you think will keep Hawthorn out of the bottom 3…and The Saints ahead of Freo.

              • Roar Guru

                February 23rd 2018 @ 10:44am
                Paul Dawson said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:44am | ! Report

                The Suns, Carlton, and the road form of teams traveling to Tasmania

                I’ll give you Freo ahead of the Saints tho

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 11:00am
                664 the neighbour of the beast said | February 23rd 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report


            • February 23rd 2018 @ 10:42am
              Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:42am | ! Report

              No doubt you will have LDU in the North starting 22 as well Cam! 😉

              • Columnist

                February 23rd 2018 @ 1:31pm
                Cameron Rose said | February 23rd 2018 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

                I do indeed.

                I never thought all Roarers could be united on one issues, but I’ve now found it.

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 1:44pm
                Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

                What do you have against Dow, the only player from the top 5 not to make even the emergency list of his clubs best 22?

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 1:59pm
                Don Freo said | February 23rd 2018 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

                After all, he has provided roads, the aquaduct….

              • Columnist

                February 23rd 2018 @ 2:06pm
                Cameron Rose said | February 23rd 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

                I think I was wondering if his shoulder injury last year would have delayed his pre-season, and thus he’d need to work into the season. Who would he have replaced in my 22 in your eyes? Daisy I guess.

              • Roar Guru

                February 23rd 2018 @ 2:15pm
                Dalgety Carrington said | February 23rd 2018 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

                lol spotto

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 2:16pm
                Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

                Given he played in the AFLX I am confident his shoulder is going OK.

                I am very confident O’shea won’t play, I am doubtful on Mullett and think Lamb Lang & Thomas will be under extreme pressure.

                Pickett (a definite), Cuningham, McKay, Dow, O’Brien and possibly Garlett will all be pushing hard.

        • Roar Rookie

          February 23rd 2018 @ 10:34am
          Seventeener said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:34am | ! Report

          Ahem, Fremantle has 13 games in Perth and a neutral game in Darwin.

          • Roar Guru

            February 23rd 2018 @ 10:43am
            Cat said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report

            But how much or how little will that mean this year? Certainly Freo (and West Coast) will get the most experience at the new stadium, but they won’t be streets ahead of every one else – especially early in the season. I certainly expect the WA teams to still have a home ground advantage with the crowds fully behind them but any effect the ground dimensions and familiarity play will be reduced this year.

            • Roar Guru

              February 23rd 2018 @ 11:53am
              Dalgety Carrington said | February 23rd 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

              Although I’m working under the assumption Freo have actually been gearing their game to new new stadium for quite a while now. Especially as their training ground is so configurable and they’ve not really had W/L as a pressing issue.

              • Roar Guru

                February 23rd 2018 @ 12:06pm
                Cat said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

                That could well be true (and probably should be true) but unlike past years where the advantage was clear, and there were historical records to back it up, this year is a clean slate. You may have the same advantage, a smaller one or even a bigger one. The fact that the stadium is closer to the MCG may make it easier for Melbourne teams to ‘adjust’ to it. The larger crowds though could balance that out.

              • Roar Guru

                February 23rd 2018 @ 2:04pm
                Dalgety Carrington said | February 23rd 2018 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

                I agree with a lot of what you say there and have said similar things previously too. However I don’t think for Freo of 2017, the ground dimensions were a particularly significant advantage.

              • Roar Rookie

                February 23rd 2018 @ 2:24pm
                Seventeener said | February 23rd 2018 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

                Well, it matters because Fremantle sucks away from home, but manages to win the majority of its games at home. Even 50% win/loss in the games I mentioned would probably mean a higher finish than predicted. Head to heads with West Coast are always pivotal fro Freo’s fortunes and buying the Suns home game could be a lemon if the Suns get up and win like they did in Perth in early 2016.

            • February 23rd 2018 @ 7:41pm
              dontknowmuchaboutfootball said | February 23rd 2018 @ 7:41pm | ! Report

              I think the extra home game is significant because it’s one less round of interstate travel.
              In 2018, Freo have to travel 9 times, instead of the usual 10.

              It sounds like hardly any difference (still more than even the most unfavoured Victorian team, I’m betting), but the spread of the travel-free periods is handy. Before the bye, Freo have two sets of back to back games in Perth — a run of 5 games where they travel only one. After the bye, towards the end of the season, they have a run of three games in Perth.

        • February 23rd 2018 @ 11:15am
          Kris said | February 23rd 2018 @ 11:15am | ! Report

          Gold Coast has the hardest draw of the bottom 5. They don’t play at home for the first 10 rounds.

          • Roar Guru

            February 23rd 2018 @ 11:54am
            Dalgety Carrington said | February 23rd 2018 @ 11:54am | ! Report

            The Suns is probably the most unbalanced, but there’s a pretty solid argument to suggest Freo’s pips them as hardest, on paper at least.

        • Editor

          February 23rd 2018 @ 12:00pm
          Josh Elliott said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

          I’ll cop 21 ten goal losses if I can trade it in for a win over the Tiges in game 22.

          • Roar Guru

            February 23rd 2018 @ 12:07pm
            Cat said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

            Only if the game means something to the Tigers surely.

          • Columnist

            February 23rd 2018 @ 1:32pm
            Cameron Rose said | February 23rd 2018 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

            Right, I’m re-doing my ladder, and I’m putting in North at 19th.

    • February 23rd 2018 @ 7:35am
      Mattyb said | February 23rd 2018 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      Along with teams like Collingwood and Hawthorn,Fremantle are very hard to predict this season.
      Your right in suggesting their list isn’t that young,but there’s a couple of sides out there that we consider young while this is not actually the case.
      Keeping Fyfe and Sandilands fit is going to play a key role in the Dockers season,these are two of the competitions best players,and very important to the Dockers.
      I’m keen to see how Tabaner goes this year. I thought towards the end of last year his form was exceptional,and he could finally be ready to reach his potential at AFL level.
      I don’t think we’ll be seeing to much of Brayshaw this season.
      McCarthy will be an interesting one,I don’t think he’s ever going to be a star but he may be serviceable. The Dockers will need either him or Tabaner to have solid seasons if they’re going to make the 8.

      • Columnist

        February 23rd 2018 @ 8:03am
        Cameron Rose said | February 23rd 2018 @ 8:03am | ! Report

        I don’t know if Taberner and exceptional should ever be in the same sentence, but I’ve been sucked in by him too many times in the past, so I’ve given up on him. I hope I’m wrong.

        I do find them hard to predict, but such a tough opening nine rounds is going to make it so hard for them.

        • February 23rd 2018 @ 8:25am
          Mattyb said | February 23rd 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

          Cam,I too had given up on Tabaner and what I saw from him in the second half of last season came as a real shock.
          His form in the WAFL finals series last year was out of this world. Certainly one who could finally reach his potential and seriously worth keeping an eye on.

          • Columnist

            February 23rd 2018 @ 8:56am
            Cameron Rose said | February 23rd 2018 @ 8:56am | ! Report

            Okay, well I hope he can translate that to AFL then. I’d like to see it.

          • February 23rd 2018 @ 9:11am
            Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report

            “His form in the WAFL” the key word being WAFL.

            • Roar Guru

              February 23rd 2018 @ 9:14am
              AdelaideDocker said | February 23rd 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

              You are aware that Freo (and West Coast, to a probably lesser extent) use WAFL form as a pretty pertinent indicator of form, and use that in match selection, yes?

              His form was pretty good in the lower league finals, so Matty’s right in suggesting that could be an indicator of a good year. We’ll see.

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 9:37am
                Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

                Yes I am aware of that, but I am also aware that Nick Graham smashes it every time he plays VFL and Matt Eagles dominated the NEAFL finals last year – I don’t see either of them playing a lot of AFL next year.

                Also could you advise how many AFL listed players were in Taberner’s team and how many were in his opponents side in this great run of form?

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 9:53am
                mattyb said | February 23rd 2018 @ 9:53am | ! Report

                Macca,you didnt watch the WAFL finals though,or any of the games leading up to it?
                Do you see Nick Graham play VFL or just read his stats on Sunday mornings? He has enormous flaws in his game at VFL,theyre just not as exposed as they are at AFL level,and what does Graham even have to do with Tabaner anyway? Are you saying Tabaner lacks pace?

                I liked what a saw of Tabaner last year and hope it continues. I’m well aware the WAFL isn’t the AFL but from what I saw I think he might be able to translate that form,and it’s not like he’s never shown hints of potential at AFL level.

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 10:36am
                Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:36am | ! Report

                It is pretty simple Matthew – dominating a second tier comp has to be taken with a grain of salt, particularly from a player who is coming up 25, had 5 years in the system, has played 50 plus games and has only twice managed more than 10 games in a season.

                “He has enormous flaws in his game at VFL,theyre just not as exposed as they are at AFL level” That is the exact point, remember what Lyon said when he was asked why Taberner wasn’t getting rewarded for his WAFL form with an AFL game – ““(Taberner) is no silver bullet for us, he’s got plenty of things to work on,” Lyon said.

                “The simple measure of kicking a few goals in the WAFL, that’s not the measure boys.”

                Taberner may well pull a Liam Jones and finally put it all together but then aain he might not

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 10:57am
                mattyb said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:57am | ! Report

                But you don’t watch the WAFL so what are you arguing for?
                I watched,including actually bothering to attend the semi against South in person,I was super impressed,and what I saw,I think will translate to AFL.

                If someone says,”I to watched Tabaner and thought while he dominated he didn’t get enough separation on his opponent”,or “I to watched and thought Tabeners running patterns were poor and led to him trying to get to much of the ball out the back”,then fair enough.
                But you can’t say,”Look I havnt bothered watching but Tabaner won’t translate his form because some random dude who plays for Carlton can’t translate his VFL form,even though he’s super slow and even though I don’t really bother watching the VFL either,but his stats are ok”

              • Roar Guru

                February 23rd 2018 @ 10:48am
                Cat said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

                History shows there have been plenty of players through the years that are ‘too good’ for their state based competition but not quite good enough for AFL.

                Only have to look at the last few years of the VFL’s JJ Liston medal winners to see players who won the VFL’s version of the Brownlow have not fared well at AFL level.

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 11:08am
                Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 11:08am | ! Report

                And Cat in the VFL they are coming up against AFL listed players nearly every week where Freo/Peel players only have 1 other team that has AFL listed players.

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 12:01pm
                Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

                Matthew – surely even you realise that you don’t have to watch WAFL to realise it is a tier below AFL and “dominating” at a lower level doesn’t mean you will be any good at the higher level.

                I simply put more faith in Lyon’s opinion of his performance than yours and more emphasis on his 53 games at AFL level than half a season of WAFL.

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 12:23pm
                mattyb said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

                Macca,who’s to say Tabaner isn’t improving on the areas Lyon wanted him to? His comments were made last year and now this year is this year.
                Who’s to say the reason he started to absolutely dominate wasn’t because of coaching and improvement?

                Look I’m not talking about WAFL or VFL or some random local league,or any other players I saw play in them,or the history of who has and hasn’t translated dominance into AFL success.
                I’m talking about Tabaner and what i saw last year from Tabaner,things I hadn’t necessarily seen him do previously at any level.You didn’t even see him play so how do you know I’m so wrong?
                I’m saying I think he might finally improve on his previous 53 games,so what does those 53 games have to do with this year?

                You didn’t even see him play but your going to try and have the last word anyway.

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 1:05pm
                Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

                Matthew – I am not saying you are wrong, simply that “dominating a second tier comp has to be taken with a grain of salt, particularly from a player who is coming up 25, had 5 years in the system, has played 50 plus games and has only twice managed more than 10 games in a season.”

                “who’s to say Tabaner isn’t improving on the areas Lyon wanted him to?” Who’s to say he has? Who’s to say that Nick Graham won’t win the brownlow?

                As I said so long ago “Taberner may well pull a Liam Jones and finally put it all together but then again he might not”

                Just for my own interest so far PaulD, Cat and Josh have all made essentially the same point as me – why only argue with me?

                Also how old are you?

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 1:48pm
                mattyb said | February 23rd 2018 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

                Macca,no one else is making such a major issue about it and demanding the final word.

                I’m talking about Tabaner,based on what I saw,that’s it.
                I’m not saying Liam Ryan dominated the WAFL so he and Tabaner are going to dominate the AFL.
                I’m not saying Billy Gowers had a solid VFL season so he’s going to have a solid AFL season.
                I’m not saying Podsliadly turned VFL form into AFL so Tabaner is going to do the same.
                I’m talking only about Tabaner based on what I saw.

                Your saying you actually didn’t even see Tabaner,but you’ll argue anyway and bring up as many side points as you can and use them to make sure you,as always,have the final word.

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 3:31pm
                Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

                Oh Matthew – I am not making a big deal of it, you are. I am simply responding to your posts which you invite me to by making them full of questions.

                “I’m talking about Tabaner,based on what I saw,that’s it.” What you saw in the WAFL, and I am simply saying what people see in the WAFL needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

                And could you point out where I have demanded the final word?

                And again, how old are you? (not sure why this is such a hard question to answer)

              • Roar Guru

                February 23rd 2018 @ 3:37pm
                AdelaideDocker said | February 23rd 2018 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

                Lol, what’s with this questioning about age, Macca? How old are you then?

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 3:46pm
                Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

                AD – I am 42.

                The age question is down to him saying the other day that the 1972 Grand Final was the best VFL grand final and he has always though it was a shame that the 1973 grand final followed it – given that was over 45 years ago and allowing for about 15 years for memory formation and required comparative data that would make him around 60.

                There is nothing wrong with being 60 but it just doesn’t reconcile with the image I had formed of him from him telling us he was a professional musician who regularly travel to Melbourne to perform on the weekend, him having a Freo membership for his kids and him having in laws who travel the 3 hours from Cobram to Melbourne 4-5 times a year to watch AFL.

                I admit that nothing he has said precludes him from being 60 and I have made certain assumptions that may be incorrect it has just piqued my interst and I find it odd he won’t simply answer the question.

              • Roar Guru

                February 23rd 2018 @ 4:17pm
                AdelaideDocker said | February 23rd 2018 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

                Oh yeah that’s fair enough.

                Perhaps he wasn’t alive then and had just seen the ‘73/‘74 grand finals in the years after them?

                I’d imagined him in his 50s to be honest. His kids could be my age, to be fair.

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 4:21pm
                Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

                Kids could be any age or he could be an older Dad – as I said I had made certain assumptions that could be completely wrong.

                Him being older does help explain how he manages to watch over 30 hours a week of AFL, VFL, WAFL, NEAFL and SANFL games and still find time to fly to Melbourne and catch some AGSV games live.

          • Roar Guru

            February 23rd 2018 @ 10:48am
            Paul Dawson said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

            Tabs is just another John Butcher. Kicks bags against Brisbane and no-one else.

            Averages about a goal a game, not sure that’s going to assist Freo much in their push up the ladder

          • Editor

            February 23rd 2018 @ 12:03pm
            Josh Elliott said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

            I’m pretty confident that soemday the young, headstrong Fremantle fans on The Roar will be in nursing homes in their 90s with blankets over their knees still predicting Matt Taberner to finally have a big one next year. Would not get a spot on the list at any other club in the league as it stands (because he would’ve asked for a trade there last year if there was one).

          • February 23rd 2018 @ 12:33pm
            dontknowmuchaboutfootball said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

            I’d almost go so far as to say that Taberner’s form will be decisive to Freo’s fortunes this year. If he lives up to his promise, Freo will win a lot more games — and, crucially, perform much better on the “points for” tally — than most people would expect.

            Obviously, he is no Daniher, no Walker, no Franklin. But his contested marking has done nothing but improve over the years, and he had the highest average in contested marks per game in the comp in 2017. Admittedly, that’s from only 8 games, but we’re talking potential here. If he fulfils his potential, he will be the I50 target that everyone says Freo is missing.

            That said, if he repeats his previous patter of dominating in the first game and slowly declining in form over the next 2 or 3, he should be kicked from the squad, 2 year contract or no.

            The other wildcard is, of course, Bennell. His calves stay whole, Freo will win games.

            • February 23rd 2018 @ 12:54pm
              Don Freo said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

              Apeness is the other wildcard. With Taberner’s coming of age on his return to the AFL (great coaching from Ross to switch him on), Apeness and Pearce back from injury, Cox and McCarthy with a season behind them, Freo has no problem with talls and there will be excellent competition.

              None of that was available to them in the past 2 seasons.

              Very keen to see what Hugh Dixon does, too. Looks like a fine pack mark and an impressive left foot.

            • February 23rd 2018 @ 4:05pm
              Kris said | February 23rd 2018 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

              The fundamental difference with Taberner and some of the others is that Taberner wasn’t meant to be good. He was a rookie pick. He is only still on a list because a complete lack of options.

              • February 23rd 2018 @ 5:08pm
                Don Freo said | February 23rd 2018 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

                He’s on the list still because he is starting to step up and show something. Freo has a great track record with rookies that have strong careers.

      • Roar Guru

        February 23rd 2018 @ 9:19am
        AdelaideDocker said | February 23rd 2018 @ 9:19am | ! Report

        Agree with most of that, Matty.

        Fyfe and Sandilands are extremely important to keep fit, albeit the former more than the latter. Those two (plus Walters and Neale in my eyes) are good barometers in the team. If that quartet are fit and firing, that’s a pretty good influence on the team. Hopefully.

        Taberner is an intriguing one. As you say, he did some good work in the WAFL last year, but I’m not convinced even with good performances he’ll be a regular fixture in our best team. I’d say it’s more likely McCarthy will be a more influential forward for us.

        I don’t expect to be seeing much of Brayshaw (or Cerra, for that matter) in the team this year. I hope they do get some game time through the JLT games, though, so we can see how good they supposedly are. I suppose, optimistically, if they’re kept out of the team, that’s a good reflection on the performances of more senior players!

        • February 23rd 2018 @ 9:33am
          mattyb said | February 23rd 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          AD,I’m not really sold on Cerra yet and considered it a poor drafting decision,was a pretty thin list to choose from though and most clubs did tend to go for needs above best talent available which was a good indicator of what was out there.
          Brayshaw though I do see a little bit of potential in,just not this year I’d imagine.
          Will be keeping a close eye and informed view on them at Peel this year that’s for sure.

          • February 23rd 2018 @ 5:13pm
            Don Freo said | February 23rd 2018 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

            I’ve been loving watching what Cerra does. Very classy and just slips through the field like a …Pendlebury/Black/Kemp.

            We seem to have 40 players in our best 22. This is our biggest problem.

            • February 23rd 2018 @ 7:49pm
              dontknowmuchaboutfootball said | February 23rd 2018 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

              Lots of people will scoff at that, Don, but I agree. Every time I try to do a best 22, I agonise over who to leave out.

          • Roar Guru

            February 23rd 2018 @ 6:16pm
            Dalgety Carrington said | February 23rd 2018 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

            Cerra was in the discussion for #1 pick at times last year, but injury saw him slide. I think he was a great pick and could well be seen in the very top echelon of this draft in years to come.

        • Columnist

          February 23rd 2018 @ 10:36am
          Cameron Rose said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:36am | ! Report

          Walters simply has to play through the middle, while still roaming forward of course, and resting there too.

          I’m thinking Freo fans want to see Brayshaw and Cerra. When midfielders are drafted at such high picks, they have to be seen, and they should be good enough to command a spot.

      • February 23rd 2018 @ 6:07pm
        jonboy said | February 23rd 2018 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

        Mattyb. Your comment. I do not think we will be seeing to much of Brayshaw this season .Wondering why ?

    • Roar Guru

      February 23rd 2018 @ 7:49am
      DingoGray said | February 23rd 2018 @ 7:49am | ! Report

      North, Hawthorn & Collingwood will all finish lower than Fremantle this season.

      They had a horrendous year with injuries and really expect good improvement
      with full seasons with the important cogs running into form.

      I also think Nathan Wilson could be the recruit of the year. His run and carry is something that Freo probably
      haven’t had enough of.

      • Columnist

        February 23rd 2018 @ 8:04am
        Cameron Rose said | February 23rd 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        Wilson is going to be vital, no doubt. He’s very one dimensional, but it’s a bloody good dimension.

      • February 23rd 2018 @ 10:22am
        Brian said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        Their old like Hawthorn just without any glory to show for it.

        • Roar Guru

          February 23rd 2018 @ 12:00pm
          Dalgety Carrington said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

          There were quite a few times that Freo put out one of the youngest teams on the park last season, often only out-youthed by the Suns and Brisvegas. The average list age is distorted by a sprinkling of very well seasoned veterans like Sandilands, Johnson and Danyle Pearce.

          • February 23rd 2018 @ 4:00pm
            Brian said | February 23rd 2018 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

            A by-product of strong teams 5 years ago when Hawthorn met Freo in the GF is that both teams have a lot of players in the 25+ range who maybe passed by youngsters but for now are making the list profile older
            Fre – Ballantyne, Pearce, Spurr, Sutcliffe, Sheridan
            Haw – Puopolo, Schoenmakers, Duryea, Ceglar, Whitecross, Henderson

            All guys on lists however not guys that anyone would be counting on.

            • February 23rd 2018 @ 4:37pm
              Jon boy said | February 23rd 2018 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

              Brian, interesting none of that five would make it on any other teams list, none are AFL players but unfortunately Ross sees it otherwise,poor Tommy as Cam said has never recovered from that fatal chestmark error. Hopefully all the new arrivals play before these five.

            • Roar Guru

              February 23rd 2018 @ 7:11pm
              Dalgety Carrington said | February 23rd 2018 @ 7:11pm | ! Report

              Yeah, I think those sorts of players can be quite handy as the clubs transition towards being in serious contention phase, but will have very limited to negligible roles once they get there.

              All the heavy lifting for a serious tilt at Freo will come from Fyfe’s age group and younger. Certainly Freo has been stocking up on more players in Fyfe’s age group over the past couple of years (Hamling, Wilson, Matera, B.Hill, Bennell, Kersten).

              • February 24th 2018 @ 9:40am
                Don Freo said | February 24th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

                Yes, although Ballas is not yet on that list. He has a bit more to offer.

    • Roar Guru

      February 23rd 2018 @ 8:06am
      AdelaideDocker said | February 23rd 2018 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      Goooooood morning everybody. Ah, nothing like a dose of honestly to begin my Friday morning! I’ve just got a few quick thoughts – but believe me, I think I’m going to be a lot nicer than my fellow Freo fans!

      15th is lower than I have them, but it’s a conundrum. We do have a lot of talent, but our very best team relies on a lot of variables – mainly getting players on the park (A. Pearce, Bennell). They’ll be a lot of crossing my fingers and toes whenever those two are on the ground.

      I do have some concerns about the forward lines – lol, when don’t I? – but I’m slightly more optimistic about that part of the ground than in previous years. McCarthy should be better on the basis of spending a year on the park already, Matera isn’t the most flash recruit but he’s looking solid nonetheless, and while part of me wants to resist a Fyfe move forward, I know it’ll work well.

      I’m gonna disagree with Cam’s premise that we’re only probably favourites in one of our first nine. They’re tough, yes, but I see a few opportunities (Bulldogs, Eagles, Saints all at home) that could all potentially fall our way on a good day. And if we don’t win the Gold Coast “home game”, I’ll be staggered, but I’m guessing that’s the one Cam has chalked us up for?

      Also, Cam – what do you think of the Sandilands/Darcy situation. I don’t believe you wrote any thoughts on it.

      • February 23rd 2018 @ 8:56am
        mattyb said | February 23rd 2018 @ 8:56am | ! Report

        AD,I think the Sandilands/Darcy situation is going to be an intriguing one this season.
        I rate Darcy as the best young talent in the competition,a big call I know but he’s very very good.
        I also still think Sandilands is the best Ruckman in the league. Funny thing with Sandilands is I could see him still playing when he’s 40.
        I think RTB will be keen to find a way to have both in the side at the same time.

      • February 23rd 2018 @ 9:54am
        Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        Freo are interesting to me, I think they should finish higher than this but I thought that last year and the year before. 13 games in Perth for the year should see them at least out of the bottom 4.

        “I don’t expect to be seeing much of Brayshaw (or Cerra, for that matter) in the team this year” How many games these two get will be a good indicator of how you are travelling. As an aside it is interesting that of Cam’s bottom 4 only the blues don’t have either of their top 10 draft picks in the 25 including emergencies.

        • February 23rd 2018 @ 12:58pm
          Jon boy said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

          Macca- interested why you do not think Brayshaw and Cerra ” will not spend much time in the team this year’.?

          • February 23rd 2018 @ 1:00pm
            Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

            I didn’t Adelaide Docker did, I simply quoted him which is why I used quotation marks.

            • February 23rd 2018 @ 1:13pm
              Jon boy said | February 23rd 2018 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

              Sorry that explains it Macca,i guess he would say that as that is the usual approach of Lyon .

      • Columnist

        February 23rd 2018 @ 10:39am
        Cameron Rose said | February 23rd 2018 @ 10:39am | ! Report

        I think Sandilands should play Number 1 when he’s fit, and it’s almost a certainty that he won’t play 22 games so Darcy will get his opportunities. No need to rush him or force them into the same team.

        I’ve put them both in the same 22 above for the purpose of highlighting Darcy as the obvious cover for Sandi, but I wouldn’t play them both at once.

        • February 23rd 2018 @ 12:57pm
          Don Freo said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

          Sandi and Darcy will work and will be an edge over the teams they play. Big ruckmen don’t work when they are no good but when they are stars…bingo!

          NicNat and Lycett will improve WC big time as well.

        • Roar Rookie

          February 23rd 2018 @ 2:56pm
          Seventeener said | February 23rd 2018 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

          The game has really gone away from having two ruckmen in the same side, with virtually all sides preferring to pair their main ruckmen with a tall forward who swing into the ruck at need. Although I can see that Taberner is polarising even amongst Freo fans, he’s the most likely choice on Freo’s list as a tall forward who can pinch hit in the ruck. It must be said that Freo are stacked for options at ruck after Sandi and Darcy, but most are greenhorns and unlikely to feature much in 2018.

          • February 23rd 2018 @ 3:02pm
            Don Freo said | February 23rd 2018 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

            The game hasn’t gone past that. The real point is that there are not many ruckman around that are good enough to get a game. Freo has 2 of them (maybe 5).

            It will be Freo’s edge and other sides will be looking to counter. Grigg or Bont are OK in the ruck against Sinclair, Goldstein, Martin or Kreuzer but against Sandi or Darcy, they will need a second big man.

          • February 23rd 2018 @ 3:08pm
            Macca said | February 23rd 2018 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

            “virtually all sides preferring to pair their main ruckmen with a tall forward who swing into the ruck at need”
            This was from an written just after round 20, any guesses who?
            Of the 36 players in the competition who have had at least 100 hit-outs (he has 137), his 29 goals are 12 more than any other player.

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