AFL 8 months ago

Pavlich backs Dockers to rebound in AFL

  • Pavlich backs Dockers to rebound in AFL

    PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: Matthew Pavlich of the Dockers celebrates his 700th career goal with his team mates during the 2016 AFL Round 23 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Western Bulldogs at Domain Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Retired Fremantle great Matthew Pavlich has backed his old AFL club to rebound quickly from last year's disastrous season.

Minor premiers in 2015, the Dockers crashed to 16th last year and are coming off an off-season punctuated by off-field dramas.

But the former Dockers captain said they can be finals contenders again.

"I think Fremantle will have a good year - they're building their form over the pre-season," he said.

"Clearly against West Coast they were off, but they were pretty strong against Collingwood ... winning a lot of the key performance indicators.

"They probably fit in the realm of teams who finish in the eight and be around that mark."

Pavlich said he has had some conversations with new captain Nathan Fyfe, but added he needs time away from Fremantle.

"He knows the phone's on if he wants to have a chat," Pavlich said of Fyfe.

"It's like long-term girlfriends, me and the football club - we need some time apart."

Pavlich expects Fyfe to grow into the captaincy and is also confident the star midfielder will reject free agency at the end of the season.

"Nathan will have a strong year. He's ready to go, the leg's not an issue," Pavlich said.

"Yeah, he'll stay I think."

Pavlich said Fremantle's off-season dramas - Shane Yarran leaving the club, Michael Johnson's late-night incident and Harley Bennell's ongoing calf muscle problems - had brought the team closer together.

"Sometimes when events occur off the field, it can go one of two ways - my sense around what I've heard is that it's brought the guys pretty close together," he said.

"It's galvanised them. They've had a really strong pre-season.

"They have a relatively small injury list and they're primed for a much better season than last year."

On Tuesday night, Pavlich won the players' association Madden Medal, which is awarded annually to a newly-retired player for his contributions on and off the field.

"It's something quite unexpected - mainly because of the calibre and esteem of players who were nominated," he said.

"It's a pretty special award in that way and also obviously the Maddens (Justin and Simon), who had a significant influence on the AFLPA.

"It's peer voted as well ... that peer-related respect."

Pavlich is staying president of the AFLPA beyond retirement, with the length of his tenure yet to be confirmed.

"I love it. I really do enjoy it - it's good to stay connected with the game," he said.

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