The road that has led to his AFL debut has been a long and difficult one for Ben Bucovaz.

Drafted by Freo in the 2008 AFL Draft, Bucovaz spent two years on Fremantle’s main list without making a senior appearance.

At the end of the 2010 season he was delisted, but was given another go via the club’s rookie list.

On Sunday against Melbourne at the MCG, Bucovaz will run out with the Fremantle Dockers for the first time.

“It’s been a bit up and down, the last three years,” Bucovaz said.

“I saw being rookie listed as a second chance.”

“I’ve stuck it out and now I’m looking forward to Sunday.”

Bucovaz, 20, credits having a full pre-season for the improvement in his game this season.

“I came to the club underdone and I haven’t had a full pre-season before,” he said.

“I’ve had a good pre-season this year which has put me in good stead.

“I’m a lot fitter and stronger, and I’m injury-free, which is the main thing.”

Originally from Melbourne, Bucovaz expects to swing between the forward line and defence on Sunday.

“Wherever I play, I want to play my role for the team and have an impact,” he said.

Senior coach Mark Harvey said Bucovaz had earned his debut by playing consistently well at WAFL level for East Fremantle.

“He’s done well as a forward and down back,” Harvey said.

“The previous couple of years he’s had a lot of injury and interruption to his preparation.

“Now, as a direct result of being in a professional environment for three years, Ben is capable of playing senior football.”

Harvey said he expects Bucovaz to contribute on Sunday, wherever he plays on the field.

“What we are looking for from Ben is that he adheres to our structure and earns the respect of his teammates through the moments that present themselves to him.”

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