Hill ahead of the curve
Speedster Stephen Hill is advanced in his development and well on the way to becoming the star Fremantle are hoping he will be, according to new coach Ross Lyon.
The club’s 2008 No.3 draft pick is coming off a difficult third season.
Hill battled shin soreness during the pre-season, leading to an interrupted preparation.
The 21-year-old still managed to play every game but struggled to lift his possession output from 2010 as he was increasingly targeted by opposition taggers.
The midfielder admitted last month he had not coped well with tagging and said he would seek advice from clearance leader David Mundy during the off-season.
Lyon threw his support behind Hill yesterday, warning critics and supporters alike against expecting too much from the still-maturing Docker.
“I think what’s really important is clubs that haven’t had the ultimate success look for almost the great white hope and a burden can fall on one player for a long period of time,” Lyon told 6PR.
“I think it’s illogical. You need a real spread of performance and one player isn’t going to take us to where we need to be.
“In particular Stephen Hill, he’s exceeded any expectation that anyone could have put on him in his first three years of AFL.
“He’s well ahead of the curve and he’s well on track to being the player that Fremantle want him to be.
“I know we (St Kilda) tagged him for the last two years. I think that says something about the player, what he’s been delivering. All we need to continue doing is support Stephen as a team and as a club and help grow him to be the player that we all want him to be.”
Hill has been dogged by constant comparisons to Daniel Rich, who was drafted by Brisbane from Subiaco at pick No.7.
Rich had been billed as Fremantle’s likely first choice in the draft, but was overlooked for the fast- running Hill.
Both midfielders have already passed their 50-game milestones and are viewed as key players in the future of their respective clubs.
Former Western Bulldogs and Richmond coach Terry Wallace is among observers who have picked 2012 as Fremantle’s best shot at a premiership, given their main key-position players – Matthew Pavlich, Luke McPharlin, Antoni Grover and Aaron Sandilands – will be aged 30 or more by the start of the 2013 season.
But Lyon said: “I’ve never been a big one about (premiership) windows opening and closing. What I know is that the list is a living, breathing entity and no one’s here forever and strong clubs plan and prepare for the passing of great players and continue to flourish and that’s the sort of club we want to be.”