Harvey says Pav the new Hird
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey has compared Matthew Pavlich to former Essendon great James Hird, claiming the Dockers skipper has risen to a new level this AFL season.
Pavlich, a six-times All-Australian and five-times best-and-fairest winner, has been influential in Fremantle’s 5-1 start to the season, with the club sitting in fourth spot ahead of Saturday’s tussle against Brisbane at the Gabba.
The 28-year-old has booted 24 goals in six games this year and is also averaging 19 possessions a game.
Hird, the joint Brownlow medallist with Michael Voss in 1996, averaged 20 possessions and 1.4 goals per game during his glittering 253-game career.
Harvey said Pavlich had never played better and was reaching the heights of Hird.
“He’s certainly eclipsed (past form from) what I’ve seen of him,” Harvey said.
“His moving and kicking and contested marking and the way he’s applying himself as a leader is just as important along the way.
“He’s probably spending 70-80 per cent forward and 20-30 per cent on ball so that’s what Hird used to do a lot of.
“Hird probably spent more time on ball than Matthew does. He’s that sort of player now.
“Where your judgment goes beyond that is always difficult.
“Because we are playing better as a team, naturally that can make Matthew’s job a lot easier in many ways but he’s doing things for the team when the team needs Matthew to stand up and that’s so important.
“He has been sensational.”
Meanwhile, Harvey backed Des Headland to recover from his latest injury woes.
Headland, out of contract at season’s end, has undergone knee surgery and is not expected to return until round 15 at the earliest.
But Harvey said the 29-year-old could still have a big impact for the club this year.
“Because Des hasn’t played a lot of footy over the last couple of years he’s just hanging off whenever he can get back on the field,” Harvey said.
“He loves the game. And for the people that want to write him off because he’s had an operation, he doesn’t think that way and neither do we.
“I said to him if it’s round 15 (when you return) and the competition can be tired during that time and players can get tired but you’ll be fresh.”