When Cam McCarthy joined Fremantle at the second time of asking during the 2016 AFL Trade Period, many tipped the then 21-year-old for a stellar career in the purple haze.
But it’s fair to say that things haven’t gone to play for the former Greater Western Sydney Giant after he returned to his home state.
In his 36 games to date for Ross Lyon’s side, McCarthy has kicked 44 goals with 19 of those coming from 17 AFL games last season.
During that period, McCarthy has found himself at WAFL level on several occasions with his form at the top level well below his potential.
Despite having any evidence just yet, the 2018 AFL Trade Period may be the point of McCarthy’s career where it all turned around in his home state.
It has all come about after Fremantle enjoyed an aggressive trade period in which they welcomed Travis Colyer, Reece Conca, Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb, although they did lose Lachie Neale to Brisbane.
While the acquisitions of Colyer and Conca are more than respectable for the Dockers, it’s the capture of Hogan and Lobb which could have the biggest impact on McCarthy.
During his time with the club, McCarthy has often been tasked with facing the opposition’s best key defender – as he has been established as the focal point of the Dockers’ forward line with Matt Taberner not developing as well as those at the club would have liked.
Despite his struggles since returning to Western Australia, the positive is that McCarthy still has time on his side to turn it all around at just 23 years of age.
Hogan is a proven goalkicker having kicked over 40 goals in three of the four seasons in which he has featured at the top level, while Lobb has always threatened to become one of the game’s best forwards at any moment.
With that in mind, we should expect to see Hogan get the opposition side’s best defender while it would be expected that Rory Lobb gets the next best when he is playing forward.
Given Lobb’s ability to operate as a ruckman, Lyon may choose to use him as the primary ruckman against some clubs, but it’s expected veteran Aaron Sandilands and Sean Darcy will take most of the ruck contests on matchday.
If Lobb spends most of his time forward as expected, he gives the Dockers a target with a reach which will become almost impossible to defend against when at his peak.
Away from the new forward duo, McCarthy can now expect to often be tasked with the opposition’s third best defender and this should give him the ability to make a bigger impact in matches.
Without disrespecting any individual, the third defender in any football side isn’t often tasked with stopping someone as dangerous as McCarthy.
Given that opportunity, the former Giant may well get back to his best in 2019 and demonstrate exactly why Fremantle were happy to give up their third pick for the forward.