Harvey puts heat on Pie blockers
FREMANTLE will seek clarification from the AFL umpiring department on blocking tactics used by Collingwood ahead of Friday night’s sellout top-of-the-table clash at Subiaco Oval.
Coach Mark Harvey said Fremantle would contact the umpires for an answer on when players could block opponents at a kick-in and in general play, particularly when a player is manning the mark.
The coach said the ladder-leading Magpies had employed the tactic throughout their 6-1 start to the season.
“It appears it may be a fair way off the ball,” Harvey said from Fremantle Oval on Wednesday. “We’re just going to get a bit of clarification on that moving into this game.
“Just [to] make sure how far [you can] block off the mark from a kick-out and whether you go back off your mark and you get someone blocking you from behind… how far off the ball and when it can be done.”
Harvey said his squad’s energy levels were good, despite consecutive six-day breaks and a nightmare flight home from Brisbane on the weekend.
However, changes are still expected to counter Collingwood’s midfield depth, with Nick Suban ready to return from an ankle injury and Byron Schammer pushing for selection.
Harvey said key defenders Antoni Grover and Alex Silvagni would also be considered, along with disciplined small defender Jay van Berlo, who can only be selected if a player is added to Fremantle’s long-term injury list.
“It’s a bit [finding] the right mix for playing a different side [to Brisbane],” the coach said.
“They’ve got some very good small forwards that rotate through their forward line and midfield that kick a lot of goals. That seems to be the right formula for winning games.
“We’ve got a pretty good handle on how they play – it’s whether we can exploit that.”
Suban, who played all 22 games in his debut 2009 season, injured his ankle against Geelong in round three and has not played at any level since. However, Harvey said the 20-year-old was ready to return.
“He hasn’t missed a game for us since he’s been available,” Harvey said. “He’s been a key component of what we’ve done. He’s right; he’s ready.”
Harvey said his players realised the enormity of Friday night’s blockbuster clash, which could catapult Fremantle to top spot on the AFL ladder for the first time in its history, but they were remaining measured.
He said he was aware Collingwood had sent two of its assistant coaches to Perth early to gather “intelligence” ahead of Fremantle’s main session on Wednesday afternoon, which is closed.
“We’ve had a couple of sniffer dogs at the airport and they tell me that two assistant coaches for Collingwood are here trying to get some research on us,” Harvey said.
“They’re doing their intelligence, just like we are. I think you’ll find that that’s a big part of their work in progress.
“It’d be fair to say that we do a fair bit of it ourselves.”