If the Fremantle Dockers needed another reminder of the injury curse that afflicted them last season, then it arrived in the form of today’s release of the annual AFL injury report.

The Dockers’ injury crisis of 2011, described by then-coach Mark Harvey as “carnage”, was in the news again this week when defender Luke McPharlin spoke of a more cautious approach to player fitness under new coach Ross Lyon.

While there are some interesting overall findings from the report – overall incidences of injury decreasing and hamstring strains at their lowest rate for a decade – there is one figure that will likely be of key interest to Fremantle fans: the average of 157 games lost per club to injury.

By comparison, based on data from the AFL’s official Season Guide to 2012, the Dockers lost a staggering 268 games to injury last year, in a season that finished with them struggling just to field the required 22 players in their final match against the Western Bulldogs.

And although AFL clubs had an average of eight players sidelined each week in 2011, Fremantle spent the final six weeks of last season with at least 11 players out injured, culminating in a 21-man injury list headed into the round 24 Bulldogs clash.

Meanwhile, across town at West Coast, the Eagles lost a mere 97 games to injury according to the Season Guide, despite their season extending three games longer into the finals.

West Coast has already started 2012 on the wrong foot, losing Mark LeCras for the season with a knee injury.

A GPS report published today alongside the injury report revealed average player speeds and time spent at highest speeds both decreased in 2011 – the first season played under the AFL’s new substitute rule.

But the report’s authors, Dr Hugh Seward and associate professor John Orchard, said it was too early to determine whether a reduction in hamstring and also groin injuries was a result of the substitute system.

2011: A tale of two teams

West Coast: 97 games lost to injury across an entire 46-man squad.

Fremantle: 60 games lost to injury just from the top-nine finishers in its 2010 best and fairest (Mundy, Pavlich, Sandilands, Hill, Broughton, Ballantyne, Barlow, McPharlin, Hayden).

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