Freo aims to stand tall
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon is preparing to unveil a three-pronged tall forward line against Port Adelaide on Saturday, with the new structure likely to be implemented for the start of the 2012 season.
Captain Matthew Pavlich will return to face the Power after being rested against Richmond last Saturday night, and he will be joined in attack by marking targets Kepler Bradley, Jack Anthony and Chris Mayne.
With a resting ruckman also likely to be deployed forward at times during the 2012 season, Lyon said Fremantle would have a tall set-up in attack, similar to that used to great effect by West Coast in 2011.
“It’ll be nice to start seeing Mayne, Bradley, Anthony and Matthew [Pavlich] together, with [Matt] de Boer and [Josh] Mellington,” the coach said on Thursday.
“[We’ll have] Stephen Hill and [Nat] Fyfe going through there and maybe a [Hayden] Ballantyne at the right time.
“We’re going to be taller than we were last year, with three talls and a medium.”
Just as West Coast benefited from the tall but mobile combination of Josh Kennedy, Quinten Lynch and Jack Darling last year, Lyon said he was confident his tall forward line could provide the necessary defensive pressure.
“We think we can handle that because they’re pressure players and runners and quite mobile,” he said.
Fremantle will take 26 players to Victor Harbor, with Garrick Ibbotson and Hayden Ballantyne rested and Antoni Grover set to resume in the WAFL after overcoming a calf injury.
Aaron Sandilands is not expected to play again before round one after being a late withdrawal against Richmond last Saturday, but Lyon insisted the star ruckman’s calf injury was minor.
“He tightened up, we tapped him out and we’re really confident,” the coach said.
“We’re just preparing for round one now. It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly a non-issue if things go according to plan.
“We talk about Aaron self-managing for the season. Sometimes the body manages itself. He’s quite unique so it won’t worry him at all.
“I thought [Jon] Griffin and Zac Clarke were fantastic in his absence and we need to be able to play without Aaron and win without Aaron. You just deal with what’s put in front of you.”
Aside from Sandilands, Lyon said he would begin building towards his likely round one team over the next two matches, with Fremantle still capable of making the NAB Cup Grand Final if results fall its way this weekend.