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‘No mucking around’ in JLT  March 9, 2018 2:36 PM

Assistant coach Simon Eastaugh spoke to the media on Friday.

Assistant coach Simon Eastaugh spoke to the media on Friday.

Fremantle will treat this Sunday’s JLT Community Series clash with West Coast as a round one dress rehearsal by fielding a team close to its starting 22, according to assistant coach Simon Eastaugh.

With captain Nat Fyfe returning and West Coast including a number of experienced players after last week’s scratch match at Lathlain Park, Eastaugh expects this Sunday’s clash to be an important test prior to taking on Port Adelaide in two weeks time. 

“We’ll certainly have a team that rolls out this weekend that’s going to be more in line with round one,” Eastaugh said.

“We’ve got some players that are underdone from a game-time point of view, so we’ve got a couple of weeks now with Peel as well, to give them that opportunity for game time and build the volume.

“While round one is certainly no lock-in team this week, we’re getting closer to what we’re looking for in that game against Port Adelaide.”

Led by Lachie Neale and David Mundy, Fremantle dominated the midfield contest against West Coast in the scratch match, however, West Coast has named a significantly more experienced engine room for this week’s clash.

Forwards Jack Darling, Jamie Cripps and Mark LeCras have also come back into the side.

“They’ve got a really strong midfield with (Luke) Shuey, (Andrew) Gaff and (Jack) Redden returning to the team,” Eastaugh said.

“Then there’s their forwardline, which has proven to be a really strong scoring combination, so it’s a fantastic test for us.

“There’s no mucking around with the two JLT games, so we’re really focused on ensuring that we have a strong hitout with a team that’s looking closer for round one.”

While running midfielders Stephen and Bradley Hill are out of this week’s side due to injury, Eastaugh remains optimistic that both players will be in the conversation for Fremantle’s round one side. 

“(Bradley has) a minor quad strain so we’ve still got effectively two weeks before round one and anything’s possible,” Eastaugh said.

“Bradley’s a really professional player in the way that he prepares with our medical staff. They will no doubt put him through his paces to ensure he gives himself every chance.

“Stephen has a huge body of work behind him, he’s a proven player for our team and given the amount of work that he’s actually doing without playing games, we’re confident he can have some role to play in our round one team.”