WAFL watch: Clarke’s next step forward
Developing ruckman Zac Clarke has spent the majority of his two seasons at Fremantle as Aaron Sandilands’ understudy, but he has focused his last month of football on developing as a key forward.
The 20-year-old has kicked 15 goals for East Perth this season, with nine of those coming in his last four games.
Clarke spent the majority of his time in the forward line against Peel Thunder and was named Fremantle’s WAFL player of the round after booting 2.3 and taking seven marks.
His performance was the highlight of a quiet week in the WAFL, with just four Fremantle players involved in the two state-league fixtures.
Des Headland made his comeback from a knee injury, playing for the South Fremantle reserves, while Dylan Roberton and Ryan Murphy played key roles for their WAFL sides.
Ahead of this week’s fixtures, senior development coach Simon Lloyd shared his WAFL notes with fremantlefc.com.au.
East Fremantle 20.11 (131) d South Fremantle 19.5 (119)
Ryan played deep forward for the majority of the game finishing with three goals – two from free kicks and one from a strong lead and mark. He had some reasonable contested efforts when the ball was in his area and he forced the ball to ground a number of times in marking contests, resulting in goals. Early on he pushed up the ground in defensive transition, which we were pleased with, and he got a fair bit of his ball through the corridor. He copped a knock, which slowed him down, but he battled through and almost got Souths back into it.
Des Headland (reserves)
Des only played 45 minutes in his first game back from a knee injury and he was used on-ball and as a deep forward. He didn’t have a great deal of the footy, but the main thing for Des was to get through with no injuries and get that half of football under his belt. He’s been moving really well on the track and we’ll increase his game time each week.
East Perth 29.14 (188) d Peel Thunder 1.7 (73)
Zac played full-forward and spent 40 per cent of his ground time in the ruck, where he dominated with 17 hit-outs and a number of clear taps to advantage. He took five contested marks, including a ripper in the goal square, and finished with two goals. With a lot of the work that Justin Longmuir and the development coaches have done with Zac, his attack on the contest has really improved. One of the real positives was a terrific chase out of the forward line, where he’s managed to catch his opponent holding the ball and have a shot on goal.
Dylan started at half-back before moving to a wing and then half-forward. He had a good game and was involved early with some good transitional run forward and back. The great thing about Dylan is he’s quite a versatile player and he continually ran off half-back and spread well, finishing with six inside 50s. It would have been disappointing for Dylan to go back and play league, but he went about it the right way and will put his hand up for consideration this week. We’re managing our first to third-year players carefully and Dylan’s body is in great shape.