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Tabs targets the taps

Matthew Taberner addressed the media on Wednesday. Matt Taberner chats to the media ahead of Fremantle's JLT clash against West Coast.

Fremantle forward Matt Taberner is looking to build his capabilities as a pinch-hit ruckman with the aim of locking down a role in Freo’s forwardline.

While senior coach Ross Lyon has the option to field two specialist ruckmen in Aaron Sandilands and Sean Darcy in the starting 22, an alternative is to name a lone ruckman with key position players such as Taberner in support.

It’s a role Taberner played on occasions in 2017, with 30 hitouts from eight games while kicking 11 goals.

“It’s the way the game’s going, your forward has to pinch-hit in the ruck and it’s something that I’m going to embrace going into this season,” Taberner said.

“I haven’t done a lot in the past but I am excited and I’ll try and embrace the role.”

The 197cm Taberner said when coming up against the game's bigger bodied ruckman, the aim isn’t necessarily to win the hitout but to even up the contest. 

“I haven’t done a lot of (ruckwork) in the past so I’m developing that general ruck craft, I am giving up a little bit of size,” Taberner said.

“It’s ok when you’re coming against the pinch hitter or the oppo forward but you know you’re fighting an uphill battle playing against the bigger ruckmen."

While the 24-year-old hopes to add flexibility for Fremantle’s ruck options, he believes a move forward by midfielder Nat Fyfe can do the same for the forwardline. 

“David Mundy is up there a lot and he’s a very similar player (to Fyfe), his strength is in the air,” Taberner said.

“Having Fyfe up there definitely takes a load off the talls if we need to push to get down the line, we’ve always got Nathan in that option which gives us a bit of flexibility there.” 

Despite a restricted start to pre-season with a meniscus injury, Taberner feels he’s done the work to be in the best shape possible for the coming season. 

“In terms of my size, I’ve only really added a kilo to my body, it’s not a huge change,” Taberner said.

“(As a pinch-hit ruckman) you definitely have to cover a lot of ground but I think I’m at the optimum weight for my size so I’m pretty happy with that.

“You can still get a lot stronger without putting on that unnecessary weight.”

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