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Pre-season derby: Justin Longmuir pleased with encouraging signs, forward firepower in Fremantle Dockers’ win

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Glen QuartermainThe West Australian
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Justin Longmuir addressing his players on Saturday.
Camera IconJustin Longmuir addressing his players on Saturday. Credit: Will Russell/Getty Images

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir described the logjam for small forward roles as “really tight” as round one draws closer.

The coach said the first-half of Saturday’s comfortable pre-season win over West Coast at Mineral Resources Park was close to the starting line up, when Tom Emmett impressed, alongside Michael Walters, Michael Frederick and Sam Switkowski.

“Sam Sturt, Bailey Banfield, Cooper Simpson has had a really good pre-season. Tom has been really good the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“The first half was a sign of where the coaches see things sitting at the moment. But there is not much between them.”

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Longmuir said next Friday’s final practice match against Port Adelaide will give him a much clearer idea.

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“We will use next week as a proper hitout towards round one. There were a lot of guys managed today, whether it was half-time or three-quarter time. Next week we will set them up to get a full game together,” Longmuir said.

Midfielder Nat Fyfe took another big step towards a return to a permanent inside midfield role, with an impressive half before he was subbed out for precautionary measures, along with defender Alex Pearce and forward Sam Switkowski.

Veteran small forward Michael Walters was lively early with two goals and subbed out after copping a knock on the knee, while Jeremy Sharp was a late withdrawal with illness and the Dockers were hopeful he will return for next weekend.

Amiss also left the field at three quarter time and looked sore, but Longmuir said the key forward was “OK”.

“His positioning, work rate and contest work was good. Maybe some of his first gives he would like back, but …. He is pretty happy and we are pretty happy with the way he is tracking,” Longmuir said,

“There are a couple of areas of his game he is still a little bit rusty in but we are making sure he gets through the workload and he ticked those boxes today.”

Josh Treacy.
Camera IconJosh Treacy. Credit: Will Russell/Getty Images

Longmuir said Fyfe made teammates “walk a little bit taller when he is in that mode”.

“We saw that at times today. Contests around the ground where he was able to be really clean and feed the outside,” Longmuir said.

“I think Fyfey has added some layers to his own game that complements his own game and complements the way we play. I don’t think he is solely reliant on the contest as much as he used to be.

“He can’t be the crash and bash player he used to be.

”We have guys who can help him in that area. We need to make sure that we spread the load.”

A combined seven goals from Jye Amiss (three), Josh Treacy and Luke Jackson (two each) was one of the major takeaways for Fremantle in the scratch match.

Longmuir said it was a reflection of the work further upfield.

“I think some guys will be happy with their form across the whole field. The forwards are a by-product of what happens up the ground,” he said.

“I thought maybe earlier with our stoppage, maybe we mucked around with it a little bit more and could have got it into our forwards a little bit quicker.

“But I thought our midfield balance looked pretty solid and our backs were up at times in some pretty vulnerable situations.

Jaeger O’Meara.
Camera IconJaeger O’Meara. Credit: Will Russell/Getty Images

“In terms of stepping stones to round one, we have a fair few guys who are heading in the right direction.”

He said the forwards “took a step forward”.

The Dockers have focused on a better forward entry this season to get more “bang for buck”.

A 14.14 scoreline over four quarters shows they had plenty of opportunities.

“I don’t know whether we got bang for buck. There were certainly periods of the game where we should have maximised a bit more, but it is still a work in progress,” Longmuir said.

“Some of the execution from both teams was a sign of early season pressure, physical pressure and perceived pressure.

“It probably creeps up early in the season and it takes a while for the players to get used to the perceived pressure rather than the physical pressure.”

The Dockers coach said there were signs of more daring ball movement through the corridor.

“I think that is a sign when we play our best footy,” he said.

“We have worked really hard over the pre-season on our contest method and making sure we have the right balance inside and outside.

“I thought we got that right at times today.

“We left ourselves vulnerable with some handball mistakes that allowed West Coast to get some easy looks back the other way.

“We will look at that and tidy that up, but I thought our contest method was largely pretty good and allowed us to get on the outside and get those looks through the corridor.

“That’s a good sign. If you are getting that right. The tying it off and connection will come.”

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