The pieces of Fremantle’s vaunted on-ball jigsaw are coming together after Aaron Sandilands and Michael Barlow were named to take on reigning AFL Premiers Geelong in Saturday’s Starlight Purple Haze Game at Patersons Stadium.Zac Dawson has also been named to make his first appearance for the club, while second-year player Josh Mellington and recently elevated rookie Clancee Pearce have been rewarded for their strong pre-seasons.

The emergencies for the game are Antoni Grover, Jayden Pitt and Jay van Berlo.

Fremantle assistant coach Mark Stone said it was a difficult but pleasing task to pick a team with so many fit and available players to choose from.

“It was a challenge,” Stone said.

“I think we had around 28-30 players that were available to pick from, which is what we want.

“We’ve got so many players that have done a lot of work over the summer that deserve their chance, but obviously we can’t fit them all in.”

Stone, who looks after the stoppages at Freo, said the inclusion of Sandilands and Barlow would give the side a huge boost in the midfield battle against the star-studded Cats’ engine room.

“Aaron gives the other midfielders a lot of confidence when he’s playing because he’s big and he has such a presence around the ground,” he said.

“It’s not just his ruck work at stoppages, it’s his influence around the ground in general play and his marking.

“When Aaron plays they all walk a bit taller.”

Stone was confident Sandilands and Barlow’s preparation would have the pair match-conditioned to face Geelong, despite them not having played much footy throughout the NAB Cup campaign.

“Aaron did a full pre-season and Michael Barlow, after a late start, has done a lot of work,” Stone said.

“With his (Barlow’s) kilometres that he’s putting in every week, we’re really confident that the preparation that he’s done has put him in really good stead to play AFL footy straight up.”

Stone said the added spectre of the Starlight Purple Haze Game made Saturday night’s encounter even more special.

“What the club has been able to do with Purple Haze has been tremendous,” he said.

“It’s a really worthy cause and a great match.

“I’m looking forward to round 1 and getting off to a good start against the Cats.”

Fremantle team

Backs
G.Ibbotson Z.Dawson A.McPhee
Half Backs
M.Johnson L.McPharlin S.Hill
Centre
M.Barlow R.Crowley M.de Boer
Half Forwards
P.Duffield M.Pavlich T.Mzungu
Forwards
C.Mayne K.Bradley H.Ballantyne
Followers
A.Sandilands N.Fyfe G.Broughton

Interchange

Z.Clarke C.Pearce N.Suban J.Mellington

Emergencies

J.Pitt A.Grover J.van Berlo

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