Suggestions from opposition clubs that Fremantle is the hardest team to play against this season is proof the side is heading in the right direction under Ross Lyon, according to defender Garrick Ibbotson.
Fremantle is ranked No.2 for scores against this season (behind the Sydney Swans), and North Melbourne forward Drew Petrie said Freo was the toughest team he’d faced following the Kangaroos’ 53-point loss on Sunday.
Ibbotson, who will play his 100th game this Saturday night against Melbourne at Patersons Stadium, said comments like Petrie’s reinforced Fremantle was on track as it prepares for finals.
“To have someone like that say something like that about us really shows that we’re moving in the right direction,” Ibbotson said on Wednesday.
“That’s something we want to make sure we can continue and obviously build on.
“It’s something Ross has brought with him, that really defensive mindset [but] also to make sure that we’re working on the attacking side of things too.
“It’s good to hear, especially from someone like him. He’s had a fantastic season.”
North Melbourne is ranked No.3 in the AFL for scores for, but against Fremantle could only manage 12.7 (79), its third-lowest tally for the season.
Ibbotson said Fremantle, which has won seven of its last eight games, was getting a better grasp on Lyon’s game plan.
“Early in the season we had a few problems scoring and that’s something that was brought up a lot in the media and something we had to work around,” he said.
“Ross brought something completely different to what we were used to and it does take a little while to learn.
“On paper you can get a grasp on it and have an idea, but during games it’s thinking on the spot and trying to make sure we can get it done during a game.
“We’re getting there.”
Ibbotson, who was recruited with pick No.26 in the 2005 NAB AFL Draft, said he was proud to reach 100 games, playing all but one game this season.
He was dropped for the round nine match against West Coast, and Lyon told him at the time he wasn’t giving everything he could to the team.
Ibbotson said his application to the game was something he had worked to improve, becoming a key player across half-back in the second half of the season.
“To watch your teammates play knowing that you could be out there contributing was really tough,” he said.
“That’s something that I’ve really taken onboard and I use it as motivation for me a lot to make sure I’m giving 100 per cent all the time.”