Freo face life without Barlow
Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands has spoken of the loss of Michael Barlow and how it has paved the way for new Dockers young guns.
The in-form big man acknowledges that life without one of the league’s most exciting young players has been tough on Fremantle.
Barlow suffered a broken leg in Fremantle’s Round 14 win over Port Adelaide.
“It was a big loss. Micky had a really good year for us and was playing some terrific footy,” Sandilands said.
But Sandilands, the pivotal instigator of Fremantle’s midfield, denies losing the influential Barlow has left a hole in that part of the ground.
He says it has opened doors of opportunity to other Dockers.
“It’s more about sharing the load, getting different guys in there and maybe some other guys spending more time in the midfield than they’re used to,” Sandilands said.
Sandilands captured his second Ross Glendinning Medal in Fremantle’s massive 75-point destruction of West Coast and says a number of Dockers could have won the award.
He heaped praise on experienced pair David Mundy and Paul Hasleby, as well as emerging young teammates Stephen Hill and Greg Broughton.
“David Mundy’s had a great year for us and has been a quality player, and blokes like Hilly and Hase as well,” Sandilands said.
“Greg spent a bit of time in there (midfield) on the weekend. It’s good to see a number of different players come through and play some good footy in the midfield.”
The AFL’s tallest ruckman at 211cm and in line for his third consecutive All-Australian selection, but Sandilands is reluctant to label 2010 his best season yet.
“You can’t really judge that until season’s finish. I think it’s probably a bit hard to rate that until the end of the season,” he said.
Sandilands was a member of the club’s first finals campaign in 2003 and a part of the side that made it to a 2006 preliminary final but was giving nothing away on Fremantle’s preparation for September 2010 this year even though a finals berth is now secure.
“It’s obviously not something we worry about until after Round 22,” he said.
“We’ve got four big games ahead of us in the next four weeks.”
But with finals just around the corner and the likelihood of playing the majority of those in Melbourne, Sandilands highlighted the importance of recapturing wins away from Perth.
Fremantle are back on the road for Round 19 with an important Etihad Stadium clash against North Melbourne.
“We have travelled pretty well this year and at the start of the season we’d won a few games on the road,” Sandilands said.
“But the weekend before last we played at Etihad (against the Bulldogs) and put in a poor performance.
“So we’re looking to bounce back from that and play a good game there.”