Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir has declared midfielder Connor Blakely has secured his position in the team and proven a point after helping the Dockers to a 12-point win over Collingwood at Optus Stadium.
Fremantle overcame a scoreless first quarter to win 10.1 (61) to 7.7 (49) and Blakely collected 23 disposals and three clearances in his first game for the season.
Having been overlooked for other players all year and been the subject of much conjecture about why he hasn’t been chosen, Blakely seized the chance to play in the midfield.
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The crowd showed their opinion of his selection by giving Blakely a rousing reception when he collected his first disposal of the match. Longmuir said the tough onballer had shown he deserved to be in the team.
“Absolutely he is there for a bit,” Longmuir said.
“He’s had a point to prove for the last 10 weeks to be honest. I said to him during the week that he is a better footballer now than what he was eight weeks ago, without having playing AFL football and that’s because of his attitude.
“His attitude to training with real purpose, his commitment to the contest, his commitment to his teammates and that prepared him for his opportunity. Tonight, he took it.
“Clearly he’s got some work to do in certain areas of his game but I loved his attitude. I loved his commitment towards his roles.”
The Dockers had contributors all over the field. Nat Fyfe collected 24 possessions, had eight clearances and kicked one goal while spending extended periods inside 50.
Caleb Serong continued his impressive debut season with 24 disposals and nine clearances, David Mundy had 10 clearances, 23 touches and one goal, Matt Taberner booted four majors and Luke Ryan was resolute in defence.
Having lost the contested possessions by 31 during their loss to Geelong, and not won a contested battle since round one, Fremantle dominated that part of the game and won the contested possessions 151-115.
Longmuir said the younger players were embracing the challenges thrown at them while more experienced teammates are injured and that was making the team more even.
“That comes with giving players opportunity. Clearly we’ve played a younger midfield at times, but we’re giving opportunity to players all over the ground,” Longmuir said.
“We feel like those players are ready for their opportunity and we’re bringing them in at the right time. But they’re standing up. Tonight was a really high pressure game and I thought we had a real even contribution from everyone.
“We didn’t have any passengers in the contest. Some players that have been down in that area really put their hand up.”
Fremantle have an eight-day break ahead of next Monday night’s clash against Hawthorn.
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