Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has stacked a key defensive unit in a bid to shut down Essendon.Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has stacked a key defensive unit in a bid to shut down Essendon in the Dockers’ first ever game at Perth’s new Optus Stadium.
It was a challenging season-opener in Adelaide last Saturday for Fremantle, losing to Port Adelaide by 50 points.
Now, despite returning home, Saturday night looms as a significant challenge against a Bombers outfit brimming with confidence after storming home to beat Adelaide by 12 points.
The passion they played with was infectious with Dyson Heppell, David Zaharakis, Brendon Goddard, Michael Hurley and Andrew McGrath combining for 153 disposals.
Up forward, James Stewart, Cale Hooker and Joe Daniher combined for eight goals.
That means the Dockers have the job ahead of them, particularly down back.
They pulled a surprise, leaving out Western Bulldogs 2016 premiership defender Joel Hamling against Port Adelaide but he’s been included this time alongside Alex Pearce and Michael Johnson to match up on Stewart, Daniher and Hooker.
Lyon will also unleash two more debutants in midfielders Adam Cerra and Mitch Crowden after Bailey Banfield and Andrew Brayshaw played their first games a week ago.
Lyon is happy to continue to build the future at Fremantle but certainly some more help will be required down back against the Bombers.
“I certainly watched that last quarter and Essendon were strong in the legs and strong in the contest and their key forwards started taking some marks especially Hooker,” Lyon said.
“We have to really respect Daniher, Hooker and Stewart so based on that we’re bringing Hamling into the team with Johnson and Pearce there as well.
“We’ll bolster the midfield too because that’s an area we fell away in after the first quarter so Adam Cerra will make his debut and so will Mitch Crowden.
“We’ll have two debutants with Banfield and Brayshaw holding their spots. It’s really exciting we’ll have four first-year players with a total of two games experience because that’s our future.”
As for the side’s first outing at Optus Stadium, Lyon said: “We want to play with intense effort and get our fans involved but there’s plenty of opportunities for game day entertainment and interaction with the crowd.
“I think it brings everyone closer together and it’s what WA football and Dockers supporters in particular have been crying out for.”