Freo will have its time
Midfielder Tendai Mzungu believes the Fremantle outfit that succumbed to seven consecutive losses will be a vastly different proposition for opposition teams come season 2012.
Mzungu – who had an impressive debut season – is adamant the side can recapture the form which saw it defeat Hawthorn in an elimination final in 2010 and come out fit and firing next year.
“It would be good to have a good pre-season, get everybody back on deck. It’s a bit hard to gauge how this season actually went with all the injuries,” he told fremantlefc.com.au.
Following their 46-point loss to the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, the midfielder was left to rue a season that has seen a number of players finish their season on the sidelines due to injuries.
Players such as Hayden Ballantyne, Matt de Boer, Jon Griffin, Roger Hayden, Adam McPhee, David Mundy and Matthew Pavlich were joined this week by Peter Faulks, Nat Fyfe, Garrick Ibbotson and Nick Lower as players all suffering season-ending injuries.
“It’s been a disappointing season. Given time to reflect now, we didn’t get a lot of momentum going during the year with a whole host of injuries but personally I’m reasonably pleased with how I started out. But as a team it has been pretty disappointing,” he said.
Mzungu echoed the thoughts of coach Mark Harvey, refusing to use their mounting injury toll as an excuse for their poor performances in the latter part of the season.
“He hasn’t accepted injuries as a excuse and neither have we. You can’t make excuses,” he said.
“Whoever we put on the park needs to put in. He is bitterly disappointed with today how we all went.”
Despite their season being decimated by injuries, Fremantle has managed to find some silver lining with the emergence of Mzungu.
After plying his trade with Perth for several seasons, Mzungu said his mission before the season was simply to crack into the senior line-up and hopefully play a contributing role in Freo’s push towards a finals berth.
The mature-aged recruit has been a revelation for Harvey’s men this season, playing 14 games in his debut season and averaging 19 possessions and four tackles with the purple haze.
“Obviously I just wanted to start out and just get into the team but also contribute. I didn’t want to be a fringe player I wanted to really have an influence in the competition,” he said.
“I had a lot of support from the coaches that made me feel at ease and not really worry about my spot too much.”
The mounting injury toll did however provide the opportunity for a number of Freo youngsters to shine, with Mzungu singling out the performances of ruckman Zac Clarke and Nathan Fyfe as just two gems the side has uncovered this season.
“Obviously it has provided a great opportunity for guys to come in and they have really stepped up with the players we have had out,” he said.
“These guys will go to another level next year with a pre-season. I think they will be ones to watch.”