Hayden Ballantyne and Antoni Grover are among four big ins for Fremantle’s clash with AFL new boys Gold Coast at Patersons Stadium on Saturday in what will be Matthew Pavlich’s 250th AFL game. 

As expected, Jon Griffin returns to replace ruck champ Aaron Sandilands, who is out with a reoccurrence of turf-toe, while mature-age recruit Tendai Mzungu has overcome a calf injury.

The other outs are Kepler Bradley, Clancee Pearce and Clayton Hinkley who have all been omitted.

Luke McPharlin stays in the side after recovering from a groin injury that he sustained in last week’s win over Brisbane, which was initially expected to sideline the star defender.

And with a bye to follow this match, Michael Barlow has been given one more week to recover after he pulled up sore in his comeback match in round 13.

Fremantle assistant coach Barry Mitchell said regaining the services of Ballantyne and Grover was a huge plus for the team.

“Ballantyne’s ability to put pressure on the opposition is one of his major attributes, so it will be great to have him back,” he said.

“Josh Mellington got off to a good start last week, so it will be good to have Hayden’s pace back in the forward line, too.”

Mitchell said key backmen Grover and McPharlin had been brilliant in defence this year, forming a formidable partnership.

“The first thing is that they’ve been able to beat their immediate opponents,” Mitchell said.

“That might sound simple, but if you can beat your own opponent first and then try and help your teammate, that’s how a defence should work.

“I think they’ve helped each other a lot this season, but their ability as mature players to beat their opponents has been a key for the team.”

Fremantle will attempt to contain Gold Coast’s midfield superstar Gary Ablett, who has been in stellar form of late.

Ryan Crowley has performed well in a tagging role on Ablett in the past, while Matt de Boer’s ability to shutdown his opponent also makes him a candidate for the job.

“Obviously there will be a bit of attention put into Gary Ablett, because he’s been a very good player for a very long period of time,” Mitchell said.

“I think what’s important is the team helps out whoever it is that plays on Ablett.
“It’s difficult to beat him on your own and he gets help from his team with blocks.”

Mitchell added that Greg Broughton, who had 20 second-half disposals when switched into the midfield last week, would probably run through there again at some stage on Saturday.

“He gave us a bit when he moved onto the ball last week and he should spend some time in there again,” Mitchell said.

“Broughts is such a great competitor, it doesn’t matter where he plays, he finds a way to stay in the game and have an impact.

“As a midfielder, his ability to win the ball is a great asset to have.”

Mitchell said Fremantle would not be taking the young Gold Coast side lightly on Saturday

“You always look at your opposition’s strengths, and they have a number of them,” he said.

“They are very good at clearances and they have a number of mature players that they have recruited – Ablett, Nathan Bock, Campbell Brown, Michael Rischitelli and Jared Brennan.

“The other thing is that their young squad contains some of the best available talent in Australia, so we won’t be underestimating them by any means.”

Matthew Pavlich becomes the first Fremantle Docker to reach 250 games on Saturday, while de Boer and Chris Mayne will play their 50th AFL games.

Fremantle team:

FB: 37. Michael Johnson 18. Luke McPharlin 41. Paul Duffield
HB:36. Alex Silvagni 14. Antoni Grover 6. Greg Broughton
C: 5. Garrick Ibbotson 10. Rhys Palmer 13. Tendai Mzungu
HF: 15. Ryan Crowley 29. Matthew Pavlich 32. Stephen Hill
FF: 1. Hayden Ballantyne 23. Christopher Mayne 30. Zachary Clarke
FOLL:12. Jonathon Griffin 7. Nathan Fyfe 40. Matthew de Boer

: 43. Roger Hayden 24. Dylan Roberton 25. Josh Mellington 34. Nick Lower

EMG: 19. Clayton Hinkley, 26. Kepler Bradley, 46. Clancee Pearce

12. Jonathon Griffin, 1. Hayden Ballantyne, 13. Tendai Mzungu, 14. Antoni Grover

OUT: 31. Aaron Sandilands, 26. Kepler Bradley, 19. Clayton Hinkley, 46. Clancee Pearce

Gold Coast:
B: K. Hunt, N. Bock, J. Hutchins
HB: J. Harbrow, C. Brown, S. Tape
C: T. McKenzie, D. Stanley, J. Wilkinson
HF: M. Shaw, S. Day, H. Jolly
F: J. Fraser, D. Gorringe, L. Russell
Foll: Z. Smith, J. Brennan, G. Ablett

Int: D. Prestia, D. Swallow, S. Iles, B. Matera
Emerg: L. Patrick, J. Daye, C. Dixon

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