Fremantle utility Adam McPhee has backed his senior teammates to thrive on a rare chance to play in September after the club secured a home elimination final on Friday night.

Key Fremantle players Aaron Sandilands (four finals), Matthew Pavlich (four) and David Mundy (three) were crucial in Friday night’s six-point win over Carlton, hitting form ahead of a do-or-die final next week.

McPhee, who has played in just three finals in his 188 games with Fremantle and Essendon, said Sandilands’ return was vitally important for the side and the giant ruckman was poised for a big September.

“I think he’ll thrive on it, like a lot of senior players at this club – they’ve been waiting a long time to play final finals footy,” McPhee told afl.com.au after the game.

“Even myself, we’ve probably all played 10 years and haven’t played too many finals.

“We don’t know when that’s going to happen again, so they’ll thrive on it and make the most of it.”

Fremantle welcomed back Hayden Ballantyne, Chris Mayne, Paul Hasleby and Sandilands from injury on Friday night, as well as seven players who were rested for last week’s trip to Launceston.

McPhee said the decision to rest so many players and effectively turn over half the side in one week was a smart one by the club, justified on Friday night by a win.

“We may have been criticised for it, but internally it was [seen as] a very smart move,” he said.

“I think the squad’s in the best shape it can be and that’s due to the great work of our conditioning staff and the players managing themselves.

“We really wanted to cement that home final, and I guess coming off a big trip from Tassie you always have a few guys that might be tired.

“It was really smart to rest a few players and we’ve had the reward, winning tonight. It’s a great night for the Fremantle Football Club.”

McPhee was again sent to Carlton skipper Chris Judd on Friday night, and he was effective in his negating role despite Judd’s 30 disposals, which were almost always under pressure.

Unlike the pair’s feisty round-13 duel, when McPhee had nine possessions, the Freo stopper was also able to have a creative influence for his side, racking up 22 possessions and five forward entries.

“There’s times when he got me on the burst from a block or something like that, but the focus was winning tonight and making sure we had a team effort across the board,” McPhee said.

“I think we did that tonight and that’s the most important thing.”

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