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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

Micale expects Dockers to improve, Eagles to struggle

WA football legend Tony Micale believes a combination of internal improvement and savvy recruitment could see Fremantle break into the AFL’s top four.

Justin Longmuir’s side had a busy offseason after breaking a six year finals drought last season, with Luke Jackson and Jaeger O’Meara coming through the doors but Rory Lobb, Griffin Logue, Blake Acres, and Lloyd Meek departing the club.

Several experts have picked the Dockers to slide back down the ladder due to a tougher fixture, but Micale told Sports Breakfast he expected their September experience from last year to hold them in good stead.

“The impact [Nat Fyfe] had, we saw in the last game they played, he started hitting the scoreboard as well, and I just think that’s going to be massive for Fremantle,” he said.

“The O’Meara replacement for Mundy is going to be massive. If he can step up and provide what Mundy gave Fremantle for a million years … I think they’re going to be better.

“I’ve got massive wraps on Luke Jackson … the effervescence, the enthusiasm, the energy, and I think last year would’ve been a horrible, horrible year for him because he probably had in the back of his mind knowing he was going to leave, and I think that had an impact.”

The four time WAFL premiership coach and former West Coast assistant was less bullish on the Eagles, saying he did not expect them to figure in the top eight.

“I think they’re in a bit of strife, to be honest with you,” he said.

“The big key is their better players, still, for them are players like Shuey, Hurn, and Yeo who are getting up in that age bracket and unfortunately haven’t been able to play consistent footy through injuries.

“Jack (Darling’s) form, we know what he can do on his day and when he’s at the peak of his powers, but he’s very, very inconsistent for mine, and the fact now that Kennedy’s not there, he’s going to get more heat, he’s going to be more inclined to draw the best defender from the opposition, so that’s a question mark.”

Several clubs will enter this season with premiership ambitions, with Micale saying he expected the competitiveness of the competition to ratchet up a notch.

“There’s nothing worse than when you walk into your lounge room and there’s a big disparity between the two teams and you’re inclined to walk away from it. I think there’s going to be less of that this year,” he said.

“I’ve picked up bits and pieces with the trial games, and I know they’re inclined to play a little bit of one day footy in those sorts of events, but it just appeared to me there seems to be more emphasis on attack and it’s a bit more free-flowing and consequently higher scoring.

“I hope that continues, I hope we see that rather than that real defensive, ugly, slow-moving football.”

The AFL season kicks off on Thursday with Richmond taking on Carlton at the MCG, with the Eagles getting their season underway against North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday and the Dockers opening their campaign against St Kilda at the same venue on Sunday.



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