Drums are beating over Mzungu
After Fremantle’s first game against Hawthorn last night, the Dockers hierarchy had pencilled in Tendai Mzungu’s name for the first match of the home-and-away season.
After the second match, against West Coast, Mzungu had been inked in.
The mature-age recruit, who looks as much like a rapper as a footballer, looks set to continue the Dockers’ outstanding strike rate with mature-age players following the recruitment last year of Michael Barlow and Alex Silvagni.
Mzungu, who turns 25 in two weeks, turned in the perfect audition last night, with sparkling performances in both losses to Hawthorn and West Coast.
He looked totally at home at the elite level after being collected with selection No.39 in last year’s national draft following his best-and-fairest season with Perth.
While he offers the Dockers midfield depth, the loose-limbed and lightning quick runner looks more likely to occupy the role in defence left vacant by the injury to Roger Hayden.
But he wasn’t the only surprise in the first centre-square bouncedown against the Hawks, with ruckmen Zac Clarke and Jonathon Griffin also involved.
Griffin was solid and showed good versatility but Clarke was more impressive. With some muscle added to his lean frame over summer, the big man looks capable of adding to his eight-game tally this year.
Whether he gets a guernsey as a ruck-rover remains to be seen.
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey persisted with Clarke in the second match against West Coast, intent on assessing the athletic big man as a ruck-rover.
While the Dockers looked rusty and lacked the penetration and efficiency of both Hawthorn and West Coast, Harvey’s use of the big-man talent was one of the few highlights of the night for the purple army.
Griffin, who joined the club from Adelaide, is a ruckman with the capacity to work in attack and is clean below his knees.
Michael Johnson was used predominately as a winger in the second game, and it was a land of the giants with Clarke, Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands all working through the middle.
In other moves yesterday, Harvey stationed Rhys Palmer across half-back in the first game before releasing him for midfield duties in the second.
Collingwood recruit Jack Anthony struggled at times to determine the path of the ball into attack, but he looked more comfortable in the second game against West Coast.
Two Fremantle recruits, Viv Michie and rookie Nick Lower, were solid and their delivery and decision-making was a notch above some more illustrious teammates.