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Follow the leader

Alex Malcolm  September 23, 2013 1:07 PM

It's a great opportunity- Lyon Ross Lyon speaks to the media in the lead up to the Grand Final
AFL 2013 2nd Preliminary Final - Fremantle v Sydney

Ross Lyon has transformed Fremantle in the past two years.

This Saturday Ross Lyon joins Leigh Matthews, Malcolm Blight and Michael Malthouse as the only coaches since 1990 to lead two different clubs into Grand Finals.

Dockers veteran Luke McPharlin says that in his 14 seasons he has never seen a player group buy in to a coach's philosophy like this team has.

"This has been really strong.

"This is the philosophy that Ross brings. And what makes him such a good coach is that he's able to create this environment that empowers individuals and allows the leaders to really drive the group and if you're not buying in you stand out like a sore thumb, because the critical mass of players are."

McPharlin has played under four senior coaches at two clubs, Lyon, Harvey and Chris Connolly at Fremantle and Peter Schwab at Hawthorn.

The 31-year-old has played in every finals series the Dockers have been a part of, but 2013 is the first time the club has played in back-to-back finals series and have won consecutive finals.

McPharlin believes, for the first time in his career, that Fremantle has genuine credibility as a force within the AFL.

"We've been delivering all season, given we've had some injury issues and things like that," McPharlin said.

"We've been continuing to play a good brand of football.

"So by virtue of that I think we've gained respect from the football community, but the ultimate respect would be to go one step further and that's what we're looking to do next week."

Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich declared last Thursday that Lyon was the best coach he had ever played under.

The Dockers' games record-holder has played under five senior mentors at Freo, including Damien Drum and caretaker Ben Allan.

Pavlich was asked what made Lyon so special.

"I think you guys probably see an element of it each week in the way we play as a team, we work for each other," Pavlich said.

"He clearly has some really strong strategies, he understands the modern game really well, but is able to motivate and guide us along the way extremely well also.

"We'll draw on his experience this week because he's been there before."

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