Fremantle has received a ringing endorsement from one of Collingwood’s own as the No. 1 contender for the Magpies’ crown in 2011.

Collingwood’s 1990 premiership captain and Norm Smith medallist, Tony Shaw, praised the approach Fremantle coach Mark Harvey took in breeding a new generation of Dockers that he believed were capable of a shot at this year’s premiership.

Collingwood and Geelong were the only unbeaten teams in the competition heading into this weekend, with Fremantle’s sole loss inflicted by the Cats in Round 2. The Magpies take on the Bulldogs at the MCG today and the Dockers and Cats have the week off.

Shaw said Geelong’s win over Fremantle was an upset and the Dockers, in their best form, would not be troubled by the Cats.

“Yeah, (Fremantle could be in the Grand Final), but it’s all got to be the perfect world,” Shaw said.

“I think they’ll make the eight, but to win it you’ve got to be top four and yeah, no doubt (I see the Dockers there).

“Who else is there? Geelong’s going along alright, but I wouldn’t think they’d be a major issue for Fremantle at their best. Collingwood is the mark at the moment and Essendon put them under a bit of pressure the other day to show they’re not invincible.

“Fremantle’s also done what they’ve done with a few injuries, so things are looking pretty good at the moment.”

Shaw, who has seen plenty of Fremantle through his work with FoxSports, said the Dockers must use their remaining home games to send a statement to the competition.

Fremantle has nine games at Patersons Stadium, including some of its toughest assignments in Essendon, Hawthorn and Collingwood. The Magpies head west in a Round 23 blockbuster that will mark the first meeting between the two sides.

“One thing they’ve got to do is make Patersons Stadium their colosseum. They’ve got to make that work for them,” Shaw said.

“Sides that are interstate, even West Coast at their best, sides didn’t come, thinking they were going to win and that’s what they’ve got to do.

“They’ve improved a hell of a lot, they’ve matured as a team and Mark Harvey has to be given a lot of credit for the number of debutants they’ve had over the past two years (17). I think they had to go down that track or they’d come to the end of their tether.

“He’s shown a bit of guts, the way he’s tried to build that list and now you’re getting a few of those players from that system coming into 40 or 50 games and you’ve got a good nucleus and Sandilands and Pavlich are superstars of the competition.

“Their style of play is a lot more defensive and everybody knows, if you’re going to win a premiership, that’s the way you’ve got to be.”

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