Ibbotson to fill the void
Fremantle substitute Garrick Ibbotson says he is ready to play a full game against the Western Bulldogs on Anzac Day as the side comes to terms with Nick Suban’s leg injury.
Ibbotson made his return from a pre-season ankle injury as the substitute in Fremantle’s 29-point win over North Melbourne on Sunday, replacing Suban early in the third quarter when he suffered a broken fibula in his right leg.
Fremantle expects to be without Suban for eight weeks, and Ibbotson said losing the in-form runner for an extended period was a big blow to the team.
However, after playing 35 minutes in his return game, Ibbotson said he was ready to step in against the Bulldogs at Patersons Stadium and fill the void left at half-back.
“It is a little bit ironic that I’ve just come back from an injury the same game that he goes out and we play pretty much the same position,” Ibbotson said from Fremantle Oval on Monday.
“I have played half-back for a lot of my career and a bit through the midfield.
“I really look forward to next week and being able to play a full game. Now that I’ve had that 35 minutes of game intensity under my belt, I think I’m ready to go.”
Ibbotson, who lives with Suban and expects to repay some favours to his injured teammate, said there were players performing in the WAFL who were ready to take their opportunities against the Bulldogs.
Second-year midfielder Jesse Crichton has enjoyed an extended period of WAFL form, while mature-age recruit Nick Lower is also available after being named as an emergency against the Kangaroos.
“It is a big loss, but we’ve got guys that are ready to come back in, and I think that’s the strength of our team at the moment,” Ibbotson said.
“We’ve only had 25 guys play this season so far and there are a lot of guys playing good WAFL footy.
“We’re comfortable and we’re confident that we’ll have someone that will able to come in and play that role and really play it well.”
Ibbotson said the substitute rule was a blessing for him as he returned from injury with five possessions and a goal against the Roos.
The 23-year-old said he still hoped to push into the midfield this season, despite having an interrupted pre-season.
“There can be a lot of moving and a lot of switching around as far as roles go [and] I will spend some time in the midfield,” he said.
“I’m not sure if that will be straight away or in a few weeks’ time.
“I’m probably not 100 per cent fit, but I am pretty close … I don’t think I lost too much fitness.
“I was training for the eight to 10 weeks that I was out anyway, but the running was only sort of the last four weeks.
“I gained a lot from playing on the weekend, and I’ve still got a little bit to go. But I’m pretty confident with where I’m at at the moment.”