Midfield duo almost right
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey admits key midfielders David Mundy and Stephen Hill have not had ideal pre-season campaigns, but he is confident the pair will find form quickly ahead of round one.
Mundy has been restricted by groin tightness this pre-season, while Hill has been on a restricted program since returning from the Christmas break after experiencing shin soreness.
Both have been left out of Fremantle’s NAB Challenge squad to face the Western Bulldogs in Bunbury on Saturday and will play their first pre-season matches next week.
Harvey said ideally the pair would have played two practice matches ahead of round one.
“Effectively they’re missing a game [but] at the moment in training, we’re having match simulation, so they’re still getting parts of that anyhow,” the coach said from Fremantle Oval on Thursday.
“[Mundy’s] just had groin problems, but not [osteitis pubis] or anything, just tightness. He’ll be right.
“A lot’s been written about them not doing a lot, but they do come up quickly. You’ll see that when they start playing.
“The only thing is there’s not a lot of continuity in them playing together as much moving into [round one], but most of these guys have played regularly with each other over the last couple of years.”
Promising youngster Nat Fyfe, who also is yet to play this pre-season, has been named in Fremantle’s squad after a series of minor interruptions, while Hayden Ballantyne will make an earlier than expected return from a foot injury.
Harvey said Fyfe had a “good base”, despite the recent restrictions on his pre-season, while Ballantyne had been held back in recent weeks for his own good.
“He wanted to play about two weeks ago, but you have to restrain that little boy,” the coach said.
“When you have those types of structural type injuries, it just takes time and you’ve got to make sure that they heal right so they don’t reoccur.
“With him, because he’s always anxious, you’ve got to pull the reins in. He’s looking forward to playing down in Bunbury.”
Harvey said Fremantle would rotate 26 players in Saturday’s NAB Challenge fixture with an eye to trialling the new interchange rules in its final pre-season hit-out one week later.
Ruckman Aaron Sandilands will play this Saturday, with back-up options Jon Griffin, Kepler Bradley, Zac Clarke and Michael Johnson all named in the squad.
Harvey said the tall quartet would be assessed on what they offer as forwards this week as well as ruckmen.
“The cap on the rotations is forcing clubs to pick smaller, running players,” he said. “So if they’re big and they’re key position guys, they need to be able to sustain the effort that a smaller running player could.”