Catch him if you can
Freo defender Michael Johnson has a good view of the field ahead of him from half-back.
On Saturday, playing in his 150th game for the club, Johnson liked what he saw from one of his favourite players.
The 28-year-old is big fan of the abilities of fellow Indigenous Freo Docker Stephen Hill, who he believes will one day own the record for most games played at Freo by an Indigenous player, currently held by the retired Antoni Grover with 202 games.
Hill has played 89 games since making his debut in 2009, and the most recent was one of the best.
The excitement machine had 25 disposals and five clearances in Freo’s commanding Carlton Mid Derby win on Saturday. His run, carry and exquisite left-footed delivery were highlights of the match.
Hill has often been the target of hard tags from opposition teams throughout his career, but Johnson said the emergence of a midfield star and the arrival of another classy left-footed Indigenous player from Port Adelaide had been major factors in freeing Hill.
“Bringing Danyle Pearce here and having (Nat) Fyfe here with ‘Hilly’, it allows one of the boys to be freed up, and it works for us,” Johnson said.
While Fyfe copped West Coast’s best tagger, Scott Selwood, Hill and Pearce got away from the Eagles, who simply could not plug all the leaks.
Pearce, an AFL Rising Star winner in 2006, had 23 disposals and two extravagantly celebrated goals, while Hill was on the end of 13 handball receives, as his teammates looked to get the ball in his hands at every opportunity, with obvious reason.
“Hilly’s so hard to stop, and when he has that space to run into, no one can catch him,” Johnson said.
But Johnson said the team was mindful that the opposition could target any one of Freo’s deeply talented midfielders, which included co-Ross Glendinning Medallists David Mundy and Michael Barlow.
“‘Hilly’ had a good game this time, but maybe in a few weeks, he may get sat on by the other teams, and that will free the other boys up,” Johnson said.
Fremantle’s next opponent will be the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium in two weeks time.
When the sides met in round 3 of the NAB Cup this year, Fyfe dominated an under-strength Dogs’ line-up.