Fremantle ready for Hawks
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey believes the decision to field a half-strength side against Hawthorn in round 21 will have benefits this week, with the Hawks yet to face his best line-up.
Hawthorn beat Fremantle by 116 points when the sides met in Launceston just over a week ago, but there is likely to be up to 12 changes to the Fremantle side that hosts Saturday’s elimination final at Subiaco Oval.
Harvey said he expected his rejuvenated players to benefit from the round-21 rest across two weeks, with the added bonus that Hawthorn wasn’t able to pit itself against Fremantle’s best line-up.
“That’s the interesting thing about this game; we saw Hawthorn and they didn’t necessarily see us,” Harvey said on Monday.
“We’ve certainly got a different aspect to some of the structures that we had a few weeks ago.
“I’d like to think that the guys that missed would benefit in week two.”
Captain Matthew Pavlich was one of seven players rested for the Hawthorn game, while a further three – including ruckman Aaron Sandilands – missed through injury but will play on Saturday.
Pavlich said Fremantle would take plenty out of the round-21 clash, including an appreciation of just how good Hawthorn is, but he agreed the Hawks would have been left somewhat in the dark about their opposition.
“For us, there’s potentially 11 or 12 changes from that side,” he said.
“Essentially it’s a different side and a different brand of football we’re hoping to play on the weekend.”
Fremantle fielded 11 players with under three years experience in its six-point win over Carlton on Friday night, and Harvey said that figure would not change significantly this week.
Despite the youth in his side, the coach welcomed a physical approach from the strong-bodied Hawks, who he described as the best performed side in the AFL in the second half of the season, alongside Collingwood.
“That won’t be an issue for us,” he said. “If they want to try the intimidation tactic, well, if that’s their card, so be it. It won’t matter to our guys,” Harvey said.
“Our players are very confident, particularly when we’ve got the edge of our supporters.”
Fremantle will have to find a replacement for injured small forward Hayden Ballantyne, who will miss the finals series with a stress fracture in his left foot.
Harvey said he had a number of players he could call on in the WAFL, with Ryan Crowley favoured to come into the side after booting seven goals and winning 30 possessions for Subiaco.
Key defender Alex Silvagni is also in line to return after missing six games with a groin injury, while Rhys Palmer, Jesse Crichton, Zac Clarke and Clancee Pearce are available.