Fremantle midfielder Nat Fyfe has been one of the AFL’s best performed players in this year’s NAB Cup, but the young star says he is still working towards full fitness after an interrupted pre-season.

Fyfe continued his brilliant NAB Cup against Port Adelaide at the weekend, winning a game-high 27 possessions to follow on from his best-on-ground performance against Richmond one week earlier.

The 20-year-old expects to finish his pre-season with a full game against Hawthorn on Friday night at Patersons Stadium, but said he was fighting to build match fitness after post-season groin surgery and a shoulder reconstruction.

“I have been a little bit behind some of the other guys, but I had a full hit-out on the weekend, and with another one against the Hawks I’ll be right to go round one,” Fyfe said on Monday.

“Compared to what I was feeling last year, I’m just a little bit behind there, but with another hit-out this weekend I should be cherry ripe for round one.

“That will be three [full games] and that should set me up.”

Fyfe battled a series of partial shoulder dislocations during his brilliant 2011 season, but he said it was an injury he was able to tolerate until surgery in the off-season.

“I had a stabilisation at the end of last year, and it has stood up really well so far this pre-season and I’ve got full confidence in it going forward,” he said.

“We strap it as an extra precaution for a year. I’ve had a couple of big hits and a few big falls, and it stood the test there. So I’ve got full confidence in it.”

Without key midfielders David Mundy (ankle), Michael Barlow (leg) and Anthony Morabito (knee), who have not played this pre-season after long-term injuries, Fyfe has been Fremantle’s standout on-baller.

He said the club’s midfielders were learning a new structure under coach Ross Lyon and stoppage specialist Mark Stone, but the signs had been positive.

“We’ve got a completely new midfield structure and I’ve just enjoyed getting my head around that and learning as I go,” Fyfe said.

“It’s sort of back to school a little bit for some of us midfielders and for the whole team as well.

“With Barlow, Morabito and Mundy returning, it’s going to strengthen our side, so to have the young guys get a bit of experience before we go into the real season, it’s going to add depth.”

Fyfe said he expected Fremantle to field its strongest possible line-up against Hawthorn in the teams’ last practice match of the pre-season, with the players relishing the chance to take on a benchmark side.

“It’s a good opportunity to test ourselves against one of the best teams in the competition,” he said.

“It’s always good to measure yourself against the best in the competition, because at the end of the day they’re the teams you have to beat.”

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