Lock-down looms for Mzungu
Fremantle remains adamant that its finals destiny is in its own hands, despite falling out of the top eight following its third consecutive loss, against St Kilda on Friday night.
Ninth-placed Fremantle, which faces Carlton on Saturday at Patersons Stadium, sits two points adrift of Essendon but has played one match fewer than the Bombers.
It is a daunting run home for Mark Harvey’s team, with matches against North Melbourne (Etihad Stadium), Collingwood (Patersons Stadium) and the Western Bulldogs (Etihad Stadium) to round out the season.
Fremantle could also face the Blues without Adam McPhee, who has been offered a one-match suspension for striking Saint Sam Gilbert, with ruckman Aaron Sandilands and midfielder David Mundy to be tested on the track this week.
Utility player Tendai Mzungu said morale remained high at the club despite the setbacks, and the players would enter every game backing themselves to win, starting against the fourth-placed Blues on Saturday.
“Our destiny is in our own hands, so we will back ourselves to play well and beat Carlton this week,” Mzungu said from Fremantle Oval on Monday.
“We’re still really positive. We haven’t dropped our heads once all year and we’ve had a few issues with injury, which are well documented.
“We really enjoy playing the top sides -you get a good indication of where you’re at – so we’re really looking forward to having a good go at Carlton this week and I think we’ve got a pretty good record against them.”
Fremantle has won three of its last four clashes against Carlton, most recently beating the Blues by six points in round 22 last year to secure a home elimination final.
Stopping star midfielders Chris Judd and Marc Murphy will be a priority for Fremantle, and Mzungu shapes as a potential negating option after performing well in a run-with role against St Kilda’s Nick Dal Santo on Friday night.
“It was definitely a good challenge and I thought I acquitted myself reasonably well,” Mzungu said after holding the in-form Saint to 25 disposals, winning 30 himself in his best game for the club.
“It was a good challenge on the weekend playing on a great player, but I’m not sure what will happen this week.
“If ‘Harves’ put the faith in me to play on him [Judd], I’d put my best foot forward. I’m not sure exactly how I’d go but I’d give it my best shot.”
Mzungu, who has played 10 games for Fremantle this season after arriving late last year as a mature-age recruit, said he was still adjusting to AFL football, but he was happy with his year so far.
After a stellar pre-season, the 25-year-old suffered medial ligament damage to his left knee late in the NAB Challenge series, delaying his debut until round nine.
The WAFL recruit said the confidence Fremantle’s coaches had instilled in him had been critical to his successful first season.
“It was pretty shattering at the time, but I knew I’d get an opportunity this year if I did everything right,” Mzungu said. “I soon got back on the horse.
“I feel like each week I’m learning a bit more and getting a bit more confident playing at this level. I’m reasonably happy with how I’m going so far.”