Fringe Docker in good shape to face premiers
East Perth coach Tony Micale says young Fremantle defender Dylan Roberton is more than ready to play against Geelong in round one on Saturday if he is selected.
Micale was commenting after Roberton’s superb effort as a key defender in East Perth’s narrow loss to Claremont on Saturday.
Still just 20, Roberton had 23 possessions and played strongly both deep in defence and giving rebound streaming forward, blank-eting young West Coast forwards Jeremy McGovern and Anton Hamp in the process.
The performance came after a badly interrupted pre-season when Roberton was barely seen on the track because of an ankle injury.
Micale said Roberton’s form came on top of an equally impressive display in a two-quarter intra-club hit-out last week.
The Royals mentor says the young defender looks bigger, stronger and more confident than in his previous two years on an AFL list.
Roberton’s selection prospects this weekend against the Cats could hinge on whether Michael Johnson recovers from an ankle injury in time to play, but Micale is in little doubt he is ready.
“There is no doubt for mine. His ability to read the play, position himself and come third man into contests was great,” Micale said.
“The only fault with his game was that he turned the ball over a couple of times, but generally there is nothing wrong with his disposal so you would probably put that down to just being a little rusty.”
Micale said Roberton’s stronger physique and greater confidence meant he had more flexibility as a defender now.
“He has showed he has the ability to play high and on the rebound but on Saturday when he was taken back deep in defence, he really took a couple of telling marks for us,” Micale said.
“His one-on-one contested marking is probably an area Fremantle would have been looking to see some improvement from him in and we are certainly seeing that from him.
“It is all very positive for him at the moment. I think that if they decide to select him he will be more than ready to play AFL footy. He looked in good touch.”
Micale was also pleased with the WAFL debut of Docker Hayden Crozier, who gathered 17 possessions, kicked two goals and nearly took a contender for mark of the season.
He soared over the top and off the side of a pack before Claremont’s Simon Starling managed to spoil the ball.
Crozier’s first goal came after a scything run through a pack. His second was a clutch effort from 40m, despite cramping up at the time, to bring the hard-charging Royals to within two goals in the final quarter.
West Coast’s Ryan Neates played solidly in the midfield and in attack for the Tigers.
His hard running and Paul Medhurst’s unique talent made Neates the recipient of one of the game’s highlights, an exquisite square-up pass from the former Magpie and Docker that hit him lace out.
McGovern could have increased his impact on the game after taking a strong early mark but missed two last-quarter shots on goal he would like to have nailed.
Eagles and Tigers teammate Hamp had little impact.