‘Sidekick’ Bradley in Freo’s best 22: Harvey
FREMANTLE coach Mark Harvey has given Kepler Bradley a ringing endorsement after his four-goal performance against North Melbourne, saying the rapidly improving utility is now a crucial part of Fremantle’s make-up.
Bradley, who has played 27 games at Fremantle since crossing from Essendon and three in 2010, was a star in the first half on Sunday and finished with 21 possessions and five inside 50s.
He has been among his side’s best in his other two games this season – against the Swans and Lions – but he has primarily been selected as a back-up ruckman and used only when required.
The 24-year-old spent the majority of his time forward against the Roos and played a big part in Fremantle’s emphatic 61-point win.
“He’s a good sidekick for Aaron [Sandilands], isn’t he?” Harvey said after the game. “A lot of focus goes on Aaron, but he’s part of the show.
“The way he’s playing he is [part of our best side]. We’re constantly working on his game and we’re starting to see some results of that now.”
With Michael Johnson unavailable through club suspension until after the mid-season break, Bradley has the opportunity to cement his place in the side over the next month.
Harvey said consistency was the key to players holding their place after Fremantle surged to outright second on the AFL ladder.
“The undercurrent of our performance is you’ve got to be able to do it regularly, and we’ve got some hungry guys waiting in the background for an opportunity,” he said.
“I’ve made that mention to the team (so) at least we’ve created an interesting environment at the moment.”
Sandilands had 36 hit-outs and kicked a goal in Sunday’s clash, but the ruckman had minimal impact around the ground, finishing with 10 possessions.
Harvey said he was aiming to decrease the star big man’s workload.
“We’ve been doing that, sort of getting his game time to around 90 per cent. It was up around 98 per cent,” he said.
“We’re slowly getting that down. Ideally we’d get that down to 80-85.
“(But) we’ve got a young team that needs a guy like him out there as much as we can.”
Fremantle travels to AAMI Stadium to take on Adelaide in round 11 and Harvey said he expected late withdrawal Michael Barlow (hamstring) and Alex Silvagni (ankle) to be available.