One pre-season game enough to prepare for season proper
The AFL scheduled only one round of official preseason games to allow clubs the flexibility to organise trials amongst themselves, with the Dockers’ match simulation against Adelaide at their training facility in the Cockburn ARC featuring six 25-minute periods and a seventh 20-minute period.
Dockers line coach Matthew Boyd said one official game was sufficient preparation for the players.
“In terms of what the players need and what the clubs need to prepare themselves for round one, I think it’s about right,” Boyd told Sports Breakfast.
“It’s a very long season, there’s an additional round of the home and away season that’s been put into the fixture with the Gather Round in Adelaide this year, so it’s a lot of footy.
“The argument would be ‘the players get paid a lot of money, they should just play without complaint’ but it’s a real marathon, so we’ve got to get that balance right between giving the fans what they want and allowing the players to be their best for the whole season.”
The Dockers and Crows put their strongest teams on the park for the match simulation’s first four periods, with the visitors running out 12.5 (77) to 10.6 (66) winners.
Boyd said the game was an important insight into what areas needed to be improved upon before the season proper.
“We probably didn’t play a consistent brand of footy for four quarters, but we got a good taste of what match-like intensity’s going to be like heading into the season,” he said.
“Adelaide brought a lot of pressure and a really good contest, so it was a good test against an opposition. It’s not necessarily a wake-up call, but a shot across the bow to get ourselves ready for round one.”
Boyd is spending his third season in charge of Fremantle’s backline, with key defender Alex Pearce announced last week as the club’s new captain.
Boyd said the 27 year old set an excellent example for the rest of his teammates.
“It’s a great story, really, it’s a great story of resilience and mental toughness. He’s had his battles with injury and hopefully that sort of stuff’s behind him,” he said.
“The great thing about Alex is how much he cares, he just cares so deeply for his teammates and the footy club, and he’s just so authentic.
“He’s demanding at the right time, but he’s caring and supportive at the right time as well, and he puts everything out there on the line for his team.”
The Crows clash was prized recruit Luke Jackson’s unofficial debut in purple, with Boyd saying it was exciting to see the 21 year old building a relationship with fellow ruck Sean Darcy.
“They’re both really quality ruckmen and they’ve both got the ability to play as forwards as well,” he said.
“They both bring different things to their ruck craft as well, which will be a challenge for an opposition team to combat two different styles of rucks.
“They’re both very young and they’re going to play a lot of footy together, hopefully, and continue to build that chemistry and hopefully be a real weapon for us moving forward.”
Justin Longmuir said in a press conference this morning Jackson was suffering delayed concussion symptoms after a heavy collision with Sam Sturt, but he was expected to feature in round one.
Boyd said he was confident injured group Luke Ryan, Heath Chapman, Michael Frederick, and Nathan O’Driscoll would be available for selection in the season opener against St Kilda at Marvel Stadium.