Fremantle are banking on fit-again ruckman Sean Darcy to fill a sizeable hole up forward as the Dockers attempt to put last week’s horror skill display behind them.
Darcy missed a sizeable chunk of the pre-season with a knee injury, and he will be eased back as a forward against GWS at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
Fremantle’s forward line has been ravaged by injuries over the past month, with goalsneak Liam Henry (calf) the latest casualty.
Spearhead Rory Lobb will miss half the season with a knee injury, while Michael Walters (hamstring), Mitch Crowden (calf), and Bailey Banfield (ankle) are still out.
Darcy, who stands at 203cm and weighs 112kg, has spent the majority of his 41-game career as a ruckman.
But he used some stints up forward last season to kick 5.6, and coach Justin Longmuir has faith the 22-year-old can form a strong two-pronged tall attack with Matt Taberner against the Giants.
“I’ve had a few chats to him and it’s really just about keeping it simple and making sure he really understands the role and gives us a really predictable contest in the air,” Longmuir said.
“If he does that, he’ll stick a few marks, create a few shots for goal and create a few opportunities for us at ground level.
“Most importantly it will help engage a really good defender and give our other forwards a good look one on one.”
Last week’s debutant Lloyd Meek will shoulder the ruck duties again, while Fremantle will hand a debut to first-year defender Heath Chapman.
Fremantle’s defensive stocks took a pounding in last weekend’s 22-point loss to Melbourne, with Alex Pearce (knee) and Joel Hamling (ankle) suffering serious injuries, and Tobe Watson straining his hamstring.
The Dockers’ sloppy skills were also a big talking point to come out of the match, with Fremantle butchering the bulk of their inside-50s on the way to committing a whopping 83 turnovers all up.
Longmuir is confident there is an easy fix to that particular problem.
“It is ‘flick the switch’,” he said.
“I haven’t seen that level of skill from us especially forward of centre for a while. I know what we’ve done over the pre-season, it’s not as though we’ve neglected our skill, we’ve done a lot of it.
“Hopefully it was a one-off and we can get back to playing aggressive, back-ourselves-in type of footy.”
GWS are still without the injured Jesse Hogan, and will be aiming to bounce back from last week’s eight-point loss to St Kilda.