Sandilands 100 per cent
Star Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands says the club’s conservative approach to his injured right foot has been vindicated and he will enter Saturday’s elimination final against Hawthorn 100 per cent fit.
Sandilands made a dominant return from a three-game lay-off against Carlton last Friday night, amassing 40 hit-outs, 13 clearances and 17 contested possessions.
The All-Australian has not travelled for six weeks and, with an eight-day break leading into Saturday’s cutthroat final at Subiaco Oval, he shapes as Fremantle’s most dangerous weapon against the Hawks.
“The foot’s really good,” Sandilands said from Fremantle Oval on Thursday. “I pulled up good after the game, so [it’s] 100 per cent.
“I think the medical staff got it right and I’m playing pain free at the moment.”
Sandilands is seen as key to Fremantle’s chances on Saturday for what he can generate offensively, but also for his ability to deny easy possessions for Hawthorn clearance specialists Sam Mitchell and Shaun Burgoyne.
Mitchell sharked 10 clearances against Collingwood in round 22 while Burgoyne was a star when these sides last met, collecting 37 possessions and kicking four goals.
“He’s been in great form and [is] a great player, so he’s a player we’re going to have to watch,” Sandilands said of Burgoyne.
“He is such a quality player, so hopefully we can try and get the ball into areas that he’s not.”
While Hawthorn boasts an experienced list full of premiership players, Fremantle fielded 11 players with three seasons or less experience against Carlton.
Sandilands said the side’s round 22 performance proved its young players could handle a pressure game with a home final on the line, and there was no reason they would falter on Saturday.
“The younger players play with a lot of enthusiasm and just try and take the game on as much as possible,” he said.
“I can’t see [the finals stage] having an impact on them whatsoever.
“They’ve been amazing this year. Last year we got a lot of game time into them, which put them in good stead, and they’ve played some really good footy for us this year. Hopefully they can come out firing for us.”