Dockers defender Luke McPharlin to go forward on return from injury
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey will consider playing Luke McPharlin as a permanent forward when the key defender returns from a groin injury.
McPharlin has been in All-Australian form in defence this season, but is set to miss at least the next two weeks after suffering the injury in Saturday night’s 23-point win over Brisbane in Perth.
Fremantle has struggled to find a permanent key forward this season, with Kepler Bradley showing early promise before fading, Michael Johnson proving handy but far from lethal and skipper Matthew Pavlich needed more in the midfield.
McPharlin booted 34 goals in 2005 playing predominantly up forward.
And with fit-again defender Alex Silvagni performing strongly against Brisbane and fellow backman Antoni Grover due to return for Saturday’s home clash with Gold Coast, Harvey said McPharlin could become the go-to man up forward.
“If those two (Grover and Silvagni) hold their own down there, I’d be putting McPharlin forward,” Harvey said.
Silvagni was sensational against Brisbane in his first match of the season, holding Lions’ skipper Jonathan Brown goalless once McPharlin limped off midway through the second quarter.
“I’ve always rated this kid highly,” Harvey said of Silvagni.
“He brings aggression.
“Ideally, Silvagni was going to be subbed off for Roger (Hayden). That’s where we were going with it.
“But he had to stay out there and play (once McPharlin went down).
“I think on three occasions they’d gone to Brown within five minutes and he (Silvagni) outplayed him.
“That will give the team a lot of confidence knowing that Luke might be out for a couple of weeks (and Silvagni can take his place).”
Although Silvagni was brave, it was Pavlich who was the hero against Brisbane, booting five goals from 28 possessions in a timely return to form.
“I think sometimes when a guy gets some criticism like he has over the last couple of weeks, it’s probably a good time to praise him, tell him how good he is,” Harvey said.
Brisbane were valiant for most of the match but faltered when the game was on the line in the final quarter, entering their forward 50m zone just twice as Fremantle booted 2.8 to ice the win.
“There was enough to suggest we were making ground in some areas, but also enough to suggest we’ve got some ground to make up,” Lions’ coach Michael Voss said.
“Early on, we certainly had our opportunities. We didn’t make the most of those but, to be fair, Freo were in the same situation so it evened out in the end and they won the game.”
Brisbane midfielder Simon Black (33 possessions) was outstanding throughout the match, but Luke Power (eight disposals) was well held by Rhys Palmer in a new shutdown role for the Fremantle midfielder.
“He learnt a really good lesson tonight, Rhys. The understanding of doing that type of role for the team is so important and I think it will be the making of Rhys as his career goes on, those sort of jobs,” Harvey said.
Voss said he expects defender Jed Adcock to return for Sunday’s clash with Port Adelaide at the Gabba, while Xavier Clarke is also nearing a recall.