Pavlich puts heat on youngsters
Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich has challenged his younger teammates to lift in Sunday’s Western Derby, saying a number of players “didn’t turn up to play” in the side’s 49-point loss to Richmond at the weekend.
The skipper echoed coach Mark Harvey’s post-match comments, saying the team was relying too heavily on senior players and needed to share the load better as it dealt with a lengthy injury list.
Fremantle is confident that midfielder Nat Fyfe (shoulder) and forwards Hayden Ballantyne (leg) and Kepler Bradley (bruised shin) will be fit to face the Eagles at Patersons Stadium after suffering injuries against the Tigers.
But Pavlich said with up to seven of the club’s nominal best 22 players still sidelined, the team needed more consistent performances from its youngsters.
“I think less needs to be directed towards me and a few of our senior players and we need to spread the load a lot better,” Pavlich said from Fremantle Oval on Monday.
“We’re confident that our better, more senior players will play at a pretty consistent level week-in, week-out.
“It’s a more consistent approach from our younger group of players, who we’re really confident in time will be fantastic and terrific long-term players for this football club.
“But by virtue of the fact that we’ve got six or seven of our best 18 out we need them standing up week-in, week-out.
“We were certainly let down by quite a few who didn’t turn up to play on the weekend.”
Pavlich continued to play predominantly in the midfield against the Tigers, collecting 33 possessions and 10 clearances, but the skipper conceded his disposal efficiency was down.
Fremantle was also wasteful in front of goal, kicking 2.8 in the first quarter. The team has kicked a total of 78.94 for the season, booting more behinds than goals in each of its six matches.
Pavlich, his team’s leading goalkicker for the past six seasons, said the forward line had been operating well this season without him, but sometimes accuracy had to be sacrificed for increased defensive pressure.
“A lot of teams would measure how many forward 50 tackles they get and how much time is spent percentage-wise in their forward half as compared to the opposition,” he said.
“You might sacrifice the efficiency and/or the accuracy to ensure that the ball stays inside your half of the ground so you’re more of a chance to score.
“There’s elements of each game, if you break it down, where you’d like to have handled situations better in terms of efficiency inside 50…the accuracy has been an issue.
“But the weekend, we think, is an aberration. We need to get back on the horse straight away and there’s no better way than playing a Derby.”
Ballantyne, who was subbed out of the game on Saturday with one quarter to play, had scans on his left leg on Sunday and Pavlich said he would have a fitness test later this week.
“He’s pulled up a lot better than first thought,” the captain said. “It (the injury) is around the back of the knee.
“At this stage we’re pretty confident that he’ll get up. Fyfe and Kepler [Bradley] we’re pretty confident will be fine.”