They were dubbed “slow-mo Freo” before the first bounce against St Kilda, and after the shock 15-point loss there’s only growing fears their “fake footy” style isn’t going to cut it in 2023.
Last year, the Dockers were ranked 18th as the slowest team from defensive 50 to inside 50.
And they’ve continued to opt for their stop-start style this season, as they racked up a whopping 136 marks at Marvel Stadium – but only eight came inside 50.
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Fox Footy’s David King fears Fremantle are playing a style from “yesteryear” that will cost them in the face of opposition fast pace.
“There’d be panic in Fremantle I reckon,” King said on First Crack just hours after the Dockers’ loss.
“I think they are playing that fake footy profile of not really trusting the back six to defend and we talk about their back six – they’ve got a good backline!
Fremantle Dockers Press Conference | 05:27
“They’re sturdy, experienced and there’s a couple of youngsters back there that are going to be top liners anyway.
“I don’t know why Justin Longmuir doesn’t trust that they’ll be able to defend and play fast footy.
“To take 136 marks is football of yesteryear. That is gone.
“If you’ve seen the football of Friday night (Collingwood vs Geelong), that’s what you’re looking at.
“If you want to contend, you’ve got to rely on your 18 on the field to flick the ball through the corridor, to go with speed, to go with power.
“Seven goals is not going to get it done.
“They had 77 opportunities from their defensive half and kicked two goals (against St Kilda).”
St. Kilda Saints Press Conference | 09:40
King said he had serious concerns for Fremantle’s attack end with two-time Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe as full forward.
“They’ve got confusion up forward. This Nathan Fyfe thing at full forward is not going to work,” King lamented.
“He’s an absolute superstar midfielder, he’s a walk up Hall of Famer. We love Nathan Fyfe.
“But he’s not a forward.
“He took one mark today, nine disposals. There come a point in that game where they had to say, ‘You know what, let’s just put him in the middle for five minutes, or 10 minutes and see if we can get something to spark’. He didn’t get that opportunity.
“I think they made an error today and this is a loss that will cost them big time at the end of the year.”
1 min, 2 pens: Doomed Dockers in Q2 | 01:25
King warned Fremantle’s game style was a “big risk” for the team to take this year.
“What worked last year we know didn’t work in the back end of the year, didn’t work in finals,” he said.
“We’ve only seen one round but the teams that went with speed last year have gone again. So if you want to play a different brand, I say good luck to you but it’s a big risk in 2023.”
First Crack panellist Leigh Montagna said the St Kilda loss would be a “reality check” for a Fremantle side that hadn’t addressed a key issue from last season.
“They only took eight marks inside 50 (against St Kilda) – and it was an issue last year. They were 16th for marks inside 50,” he said.
“They’ve got to be moving the ball better.”
But coach Justin Longmuir said he wasn’t prepared to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” after the tough loss.
“I didn’t think we brought the right energy, especially in the first half, with some aspects of our game,” Longmuir said.
“We got beaten by what we scouted which is disappointing.
“I thought we defended our front half really average in the first half. Then we lacked connection between roles and lines.
“It (the lack of energy) could be a number of different things … last game of the weekend. But take nothing away from St Kilda, they played with dare and speed.”