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Freo’s forward options

Hayden Ballantyne chats to the media after returning to the club for pre-season training. Hayden Ballantyne chats to the media after returning to the club for pre-season training.

The addition of Brandon Matera alongside a string of versatile midfielders gives Fremantle plenty of options up front in 2018, according to Hayden Ballantyne.

The small forward used Richmond’s success in 2017 as an example of forward lines finding success without relying on a number of key talls.

Alongside the likes of Cam McCarthy, Shane Kersten and Matt Taberner, Fremantle can also look to their small forwards in Ballantyne, Matera and Michael Walters, while midfielders Nat Fyfe, David Mundy and Lachie Neale have all shown their ability to impact the scoreboard. 

“I think that’s the way footy’s going isn't it?” Ballantyne said. 

“You look at Richmond and how they played through the year. That mosquito fleet down forward with one big forward in Jack Riewoldt and all those guys went through the midfield too.”

“Footy’s evolving, You’ve got to play in a lot more positions. Sonny (Michael Walters) is one of those guys who’s obviously a gun midfielder as well as a forward.” 

“He’ll play a bit more forward, maybe get Nathan down forward and take a few big marks get and kick some goals.”

Ballantyne used Fyfe’s International Rules success as an example of what the Freo captain can achieve up front.

Fyfe kicked one of Australia’s two goals during the two-game series and kicked four overs on the way to claiming the Jim Stynes Medal as Australia’s best player.

“I think, as a key forward, Fyfe’s a jet too,” Ballantyne said.

“He kicked a few in the International Rules and, clearly, one of his greatest assets is his contested marking. If he had a little stint in the forward line, he’ll definitely kick a lot of goals.”

While Ballantyne trained closely alongside Brandon Matera at Monday’s training session, he said there haven’t been any discussions about the pair’s role in 2018.

“I haven’t really thought about anything positional wise,” Ballantyne said. 

“He’s coming in playing a small forward role and Nathan Wilson is coming in running off half back. So it’ll be exciting seeing Nathan running off half-back and kicking Brandon and I the ball.”

According to Ballantyne, Wilson and Matera have added to the growing excitement at the club as Fremantle heads into Friday’s NAB AFL National Draft with a strong hand.

“It’s a fantastic position for the club to be in,” Ballantyne said.

“We get two quality players in Brandon and Nathan into the club and then two quality picks in two and five. I’m sure the recruiters can do a good job with that.”

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs