Fremantle ruckman Zac Clarke will remain at East Perth after the Dockers were persuaded that his best interests were to stay under the tutelage of veteran WAFL coach Tony Micale.

Clarke will lead the Royals ruck against East Fremantle tomorrow in the absence of injured big man Zac Beeck and is set to be given greater opportunities on the ball.

Describing the matter as “a storm in a teacup”, an East Perth official said the AFL club was happy with the way the Royals intended to manage the third-year Docker.

Fremantle were concerned that Clarke was being denied time on the ball and withdrew him from the East Perth team that took on Subiaco on Good Friday.

Clarke had produced just 23 hit-outs in his two WAFL matches, compared to Beeck who had 79 hit-outs in the same two games.

Fremantle’s decision to prevent Clarke playing against Subiaco and agitation over his club allocation was seen in WAFL circles as an attempt to intimidate the clubs over stand-alone reserves teams.

West Coast and Fremantle will next month make a submission to the WA Football Commission to have their own reserves teams in the WAFL from next season.

They have flexed their muscles in recent weeks by identifying WAFL breaches of the service agreement that governs the use of AFL players in the State league. After a decade of broad agreement over the management of AFL players in the competition, WAFL clubs are reporting a more strained relationship this year as the Eagles and Dockers seek their own second teams.

West Coast midfielder Chris Masten will return to action for East Fremantle tomorrow against East Perth at Medibank Stadium.

Masten had surgery after damaging knee cartilage in a round-one win over North Melbourne.

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