In three seasons as coach, he has brought strength and poise to the club, which last season saw Dockers return to the finals for the first time since 2015.
But if Fremantle were to go deeper into September, the club would need to land a classy power forward after finishing 14th in scoring last year.
Enter Luke Jackson.
Given Fremantle’s tradition of approaching the dealing table with all the confidence of a Quaker behind the wheel of a sports car, there was a good chance the club would stuff it full.
But Dockers managed to get the job done after a three-way swap that would have stumped TV psychologists Married at first sight.
Jackson is an incredible athlete. There aren’t too many 8-foot players who walk around the AFL with the poise, grace and skill of Jackson. And he has marketing appeal as he looks like the lead singer of a quirky indie rock band.
The 22-year-old showed in the third quarter of the 2021 grand final that he doesn’t need too many touches to influence a game.
Time will tell if Fremantle paid too much for the former East Fremantle prodigy; We tend to forget that he only played 52 games.
But the Dockers wild card could be former club captain Nathan Fyfe.
Fremantle cabled to bring the two-time Brownlow medalist up front with all the subtlety of an Alistair Lynch haymaker.
Despite the obvious sleight of hand, it’s a cunning plan.
As Bell said in a recent Channel 7 interview, Fyfe’s presence up front will “induce panic”. And it’s not because he’s so attractive.
“We’ll certainly use him in midfield at times – we’d be crazy not to do that,” Bell said. “He’s a great aerialist, he’s one of the toughest players I’ve seen in this game so I think he can give the opposing defense a real headache.”
Fyfe could become just as much a wrecking ball as Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt, meaning fleet-footed forwards like Lachlan Schultz, Michael Frederick and veteran Michael Waters will be waiting to bounce off.
The Dockers may have had some offensive problems last year, but the club was able to win 15 games because they developed one of the most parsimonious defenses in the AFL.
Fremantle have the quietest six in the game with Luke Ryan, Alex Pearce, Brennan Cox, Brandon Walker, Hayden Young and Jordan Clark.
Pearce has become one of the best stoppers in the game and possibly has the best haircut in the AFL. He’s also a dasher and will join Young and Clark in making an impressive run from the backline.
Dockers’ midfield isn’t elite yet, but Engineering has some serious young talent in Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong. And Will Brodie could lay claim to the best “recruit” of 2022.
Fremantle also has one of their best rising ruck men in Sean Darcy. He could have all the dexterity of the animated character Baymax Big Hero Sixbut he’ll be able to sneak up front and score, with Jackson likely to pinch at the ruck.
There’s depth and class everywhere now.
Of the departing players, Dockers will miss Rory Lobb the most. Griffin Logue, Blake Acres, Darcy Tucker and Lloyd Meek were useable and not always in Fremantle’s best 22.
David Mundy’s retirement is painful but the club got a Mundy 2.0 in Jaeger O’Meara from the Hawks.
On paper, Fremantle appear to have the right mix to win the club’s first-ever flag.
But even if Pearce and Longmuir lift the trophy in September, I will continue to despise Dockers. Maybe even a little bit more.
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https://www.smh.com.au/sport/afl/as-an-eagles-tragic-this-hurts-but-i-think-freo-will-win-the-flag-20230313-p5crn0.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport As an Eagles tragedy, it hurts — but I think the Fremantle Dockers will win the AFL Premiership in 2023