Dockers’ young gun puts Eagles on edge
Fremantle youngster Nat Fyfe’s quest to establish himself as an AFL superstar gained another boost on Wednesday when West Coast ruckman Dean Cox labelled the 19-year-old as the Dockers’ most important player.
Fyfe, in just his second season, is on track for All-Australian honours this year after averaging 26 possessions a game to go with his 13 goals.
For years, it has been Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands who carried Fremantle’s hopes and fortunes.
But Cox believes Fyfe has taken on the mantle of the Dockers’ barometer, labelling the 186cm marking machine as the man to stop in Sunday’s crunch western derby at Patersons Stadium.
“Fyfe’s been in fantastic form. He’s been Fremantle’s best player from an outsider’s perspective,” Cox said.
“He’s just really versatile.
“He can play forward, he’s great in contested situations, he can take a mark and he can push forward and kick goals. (He’s) very damaging, so we’re going to have to cut him out.”
Despite Fyfe’s fast-growing reputation – with coach Mark Harvey already comparing him to former Essendon great and current Bombers’ coach James Hird – Pavlich said the Lake Grace product remains as level headed as ever.
“He’s got a fierce desire to be successful and he’s very driven. I don’t think the external distractions will affect him one bit,” Pavlich said of the man taken with pick No.20 in the 2009 national draft.
“It’s probably likely that they (West Coast) might look to target him or a couple of other players.
“We’ll be no different with focusing on some of their very good players as well – tit for tat sort of thing.”
Pavlich said Sandilands remains only an outside chance to return from a toe injury this week, saying the three-times All-Australian is too important to risk if not fully fit.
“He was in the gym with me this morning just doing some stuff which included testing it out a little bit,” Pavlich said.
“We’re hopeful that he might have a run around tomorrow. If not, we might leave it to the last minute.”
Star West Coast midfielder Daniel Kerr, who missed last week’s loss to St Kilda due to a series of sore spots, was restricted to light drills at training on Wednesday, casting further doubt over his availability.
But Cox hinted the 28-year-old had already done some extra work away from the prying eyes of the media.
“Kerrey might have done a bit more before you guys got there,” Cox said.
“Kerrey’s been doing enough work and hopefully he’ll be right to go.”
West Coast’s late fade-out against the Saints last week dealt their top-four chances a big blow, but Cox dismisses any talk of tiredness creeping up on any of the players.
“The playing group’s certainly not fatigued,” Cox said.
“There’s so much sports science and research that goes into getting players to be as fit as possible for a whole year and our club’s no different.
“We’ve shown throughout the year we can match it with any side in the competition and beat them when we’re playing good footy.
“… We want to stay within that top-four reach.”
Fremantle, buoyed by last week’s away win over Sydney, will draw level on points with West Coast if they defeat their arch enemy.