Pavlich is our Kelly Slater, says Dockers
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey has backed Matthew Pavlich to become the Kelly Slater of the AFL, saying the Dockers skipper’s meticulous attention to detail will allow him to blossom for years to come.
Pavlich has coped well with the extra workload of playing as a big-bodied midfielder this year, showing no signs of slowing down after 240 games and 12 years at the top level.
Slater, who at 39 years of age is on track to secure a record 11th world surfing title this year, and 35-year-old Essendon defender Dustin Fletcher have proven that sportsmen can flourish and even improve as they move into their mid-to-late 30s.
Harvey believed 29-year-old Pavlich would be able to sustain his role in the midfield this season and remain a star of the show for years to come.
“If you look at different sportsmen – Kelly Slater’s 39 and still winning world championships,” Harvey said on Friday.
“Matthew’s a pro in many ways. His preparation is faultless and he looks after himself and knows what he needs to do to get to the line every week and maximise his performance.
“That’s why we signed him for four years (until the end of 2014) because we know what he’s all about.
“He’s leading in actions and that’s the most important thing.
“And then (that’s) backed up by the smartness and the understanding of the game and what it’s presenting throughout the game – that’s where he’s scientific.”
Pavlich will play a key role as the Dockers attempt to end a run of six straight losses against the Western Bulldogs when the two teams square off at Patersons Stadium on Monday night.
Harvey said his team were now mature enough to match it with competition heavyweights such as the Dogs.
“To be honest with us we’ve let the Dogs off the leash in the last three years and we need to make sure they bark a bit more and chase us a little bit more,” Harvey said.
“We’ve been evolving so it’s starting to get to the stage now where, OK, our guys are two, three, four years down the track … and we need to start making sure that we really challenge and turn the tables on these types of teams that have had it over us.”
The match will mark Fremantle midfielder Stephen Hill’s 50th AFL appearance, a milestone that will be achieved just days after Brisbane’s Daniel Rich reached the same mark.
Fremantle were criticised in some circles when they overlooked Rich to select Hill with pick No.3 in the 2008 national draft.
Although the punt paid massive dividends for Fremantle, Harvey said it was unfair to continually compare the two players.
“I don’t make comparisons, you guys can do that,” Harvey said.
“Nothing fazes Stephen. He doesn’t talk about how or why he was picked or (who he is) compared to.
“It’s not an issue with him, so we don’t discuss it.
“It was appropriate for us to get a player like Stephen at that particular time.”