It has been a tough end to the season for Fremantle’s regular WAFL players, but the club’s injury crisis has presented unexpected opportunities for the group this Saturday against the Western Bulldogs.

Justin Bollenhagen (three games) and Ben Bucovaz (one) have been named to take on the Dogs at Etihad Stadium while Hamish Shepheard, Joel Houghton and Casey Sibosado, who have not played a senior game for Fremantle, are emergencies.

Their selection in the 25-man squad is the result of a crippling injury list that left Fremantle applying to the AFL for special dispensation to upgrade another rookie this week.

However, assistant coach Simon Lloyd has challenged the group to take any opportunity they are given in the club’s final game of the 2011 season.

“Sometimes you get opportunity through good fortune and other times it’s though your performance,” Lloyd said. “Whatever the opportunity is, it’s just a matter of taking it.”

Bucovaz became available for selection on Thursday after an appeal against his one-match WAFL suspension was upheld.

Fremantle was also forced to upgrade Shepheard to the senior list as its mid-season rookie and Casey Sibosado as a replacement for Matt de Boer, who was named on the long-term injury list on Thursday.

Sibosado, who has endured an inconsistent season with Perth, was Fremantle’s WAFL player of the round in round 23 after bouncing back to form in the forward line.

“There was no disguising that he’d had an ordinary game a week ago and Casey’s a really honest person, so he knew exactly where it was at,” Lloyd said.

“To his credit he sat down with the development coaches and went through what he needed to focus on.

“It’s coming to the end of the season and it’s important for Casey to have another good game this week.”

Ahead of Saturday’s clash against the Bulldogs, Lloyd shared his WAFL notes with fremantlefc.com.au.

Subiaco 13.17 (95) d East Fremantle 8.9 (57)

Ben Bucovaz
Ben played as a high forward for East Fremantle, with stints at half-back and full-forward, and he was dangerous when leading hard. There was a fantastic forward entry at one stage that resulted in a goal and he asserted himself physically. There were, however, a number of unrewarded leads and at times he was stranded on the opposite side of play. Ben worked hard in defensive transition but he needs to burst offensively when his team wins the ball.

Perth 15.11 (101) d East Perth 13.8 (86)

Justin Bollenhagen
Justin had seven possessions as a wingman and high forward for Swan Districts, with three of his involvements coming in the first 10 minutes of the game. Following that, his work-rate dropped away, which was disappointing and is something he needs to work on. The effort and desire that he showed at the start of the game needs to be maintained. He approached his first game with Swans last week really well, so we’d like to see that work-rate again.

Joel Houghton 
Joel played wing and in the ruck for Perth, with some positive periods of play highlighted by his intent and aggression and strong tackling. The big positive for us was Joel’s marking overhead, which was stronger than we’ve seen from him in recent times. He went back into defence in the third quarter and took a strong grab, finishing with 16 possessions and a goal. There was also a terrific chase-down tackle, which unfortunately was paid a free kick against, so there were some good signs from Joel.

Casey Sibosado 
Casey played as a key forward for Perth and presented well at the ball carrier, getting off his opponent in the second half to consistently mark uncontested. Overall his leading patterns were good, establishing some good connections with his fellow forwards, and he played on often. Casey kicked three goals and his field kicking was very good.

Tim Ruffles (reserves)
Tim played predominantly across half-forward for three quarters with the Perth reserves, starting with great energy and marking inside 50 to kick two goals from set shots in the first quarter. He ran some really good offensive running patterns and he worked into defence in the third quarter, winning the ball in a contested situation. We were really happy with Tim backing up from last week’s comeback game.

Hamish Shepheard
Hamish started as a key defender and had some good involvements for East Perth in the first quarter, running to receive off half-back and getting into some good positions. He moved forward in the second quarter and took a mark on the lead and a strong contested mark, but overall he had little impact in attack. After the first quarter we’re looking for more involvements in the game from Hamish.

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