Freo ready for full-strength Dons
Defender Antoni Grover says Fremantle will be preparing for a full-strength Essendon side on Sunday as it looks to bounce back from a final quarter capitulation against Hawthorn in round 11.
The Bombers, who have close to a full list of players to choose from, are likely to travel to Perth with captain Jobe Watson (hamstring) and key position player Michael Hurley (calf).
Fremantle remains troubled by the longest injury list in the AFL, and Grover said Sunday’s clash at Patersons Stadium would be a big test as the side looks to arrest a two-game losing streak.
Stopping Watson, the Bombers’ star midfielder and leader, will be particularly important, Grover said, if he returns from a three-week hamstring injury.
“I guess there’s a reason why he’s their captain. He has been in terrific form this year before he got injured,” Grover said.
“We watched them Friday night and they’re going to be at full strength just about, so it’s going to be a good challenge.”
Fremantle will also be looking to reassert its advantage at home, having lost its past two matches at Patersons Stadium to fall to eighth on the ladder.
An over-reliance on its top three players – injured ruckman Aaron Sandilands, midfielder David Mundy and captain Matthew Pavlich – has been blamed for Fremantle’s current form slump, having lost four of its last five games.
Grover, who backed Pavlich to return to form against the Bombers after a lacklustre performance against the Hawks, said the team couldn’t afford to rely solely on its top-end players.
“At times I think there might have been [an over-reliance on them], but as this group goes forward that can’t be the case if we want to get to where we want to,” Grover said.
“I know Matthew Pavlich’s character and he’s a terrific leader of this club and he works really hard. He’ll definitely turn it around.”
Grover was at a loss to explain Fremantle’s final quarter against the Hawks, which saw it concede eight consecutive goals to surrender a 26-point lead and lose by 22 points.
“It’s something we’re going to have to look through with our review and no doubt find out why it happened,” he said.
“It was very disappointing…momentum really got us.
“We let ourselves down with our contested ball and our centre clearances in the last quarter and we let too many easy goals through.
“It’s a credit to [Hawthorn], they’re one of the top teams of the competition and we’re still yet to bridge that gap.”