Fremantle’s defensive squeeze
Fremantle defender Alex Silvagni is hopeful a full pre-season will give him the edge required to cement his spot in Ross Lyon’s back six, with a selection squeeze looming in defence ahead of the NAB Cup.
Following the arrival of former St Kilda defender Zac Dawson, Fremantle boasts four genuine key-defensive options, including veteran pair Luke McPharlin and Antoni Grover.
Silvagni is entering his third season after being recruited as a 22-year-old rookie and he is aiming to cement his spot in defence this year after an impressive end to the 2011 season.
The 24-year-old, who suffered a stomach infection last year and didn’t play until round 14, said a strong pre-season was giving him the mental edge he needed to improve.
“It’s just been enjoyable being out on the track and just running around with the boys and not being restrained by injuries,” Silvagni said from Fremantle Oval on Monday.
“It’s such a mental edge as well. You’re always being held back when all you want to do is go.
“It’s great to be running around with the guys and I’m really looking forward to starting the season.”
Silvagni completed a three-week technique running program during the off-season to correct deficiencies in his style and he said being free of injury had allowed him to boost his fitness base significantly.
“I’m running a bit more and just the distances I’m covering, it’s obviously a lot higher than what I was doing in previous years,” he said.
“Having limited pre-seasons, your fitness struggles later on … so fitness wise it’s such a positive.”
All of Fremantle’s first-choice defenders are fit and available three weeks ahead of the club’s NAB Cup opener against West Coast and Essendon at Patersons Stadium and Silvagni said the group was gelling well.
However, with Dawson joining the club after playing under Lyon at St Kilda, he said selection of Fremantle’s back six might not be predictable during the year.
“They (the coaches) might think guys are suited to playing in there one week against a certain team and then they might need smaller guys or taller guys for another week,” Silvagni said.
“Competition for spots, it puts pressure on the guys in the team and obviously it’s a great thing to have when we’ve got so many numbers out there actually playing WAFL or AFL.”