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Nathan Schmook - afl.com.au  March 15, 2018 2:59 PM

Nat Fyfe at AFL Captain's Day in Melbourne.

Nat Fyfe at AFL Captain's Day in Melbourne.

Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe says he is motivated by the challenge of regaining recognition as the game's best player after a pre-season that has him well placed to produce his elite best.

Fyfe, who was unanimously seen as the game's best player in his Brownlow Medal year of 2015, was this week voted in at No.3 in the Players' Top 50 poll, behind Dustin Martin and Patrick Dangerfield.

The 26-year-old, who battled 18 months of leg issues after his 2015 season, said the combination of 21 games last season, International Rules at the end of the year, and two JLT Community Series games had him primed for 2018.

While his role as captain meant team performance was at the forefront of his mind, the two-time All Australian said part of him was driven to be the game's best player.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't motivated individually by being the best player I can be, and potentially being unanimously recognised as the best player does have some real motivation aspects to it," Fyfe said at Captains Day on Thursday.  

"But as a captain of the footy club it takes somewhat of a backseat to getting our team going and really performing as a team.

"I will acknowledge that it does have some motivational value."

After finishing last season with a strong run of form, Fyfe said he'd been able to continue that momentum through the off-season and into his preparation for 2018.

"Physically I'm in as good a condition as last year," the skipper said.

"But now I've managed to play 21 games of a season last year and International Rules and some pre-season football games.

"So I've stacked a lot of work of high intensity football, which is different to just running around the boundary chasing the white line.

"I'm fit, I'm seeing the game pretty well at the moment, I'm enjoying working with our other young midfielders and our experienced midfielders, (and) I look forward to what the year can bring."

Fyfe said the Fremantle Dockers had built confidence in their game plan over two JLT Community Series games and the team was in "good shape" ahead of a round one clash against Port Adelaide on March 24.

He nominated tall forward Matt Taberner as a player who could make a significant step up this season.

"(He) looks like he'll go to the next level with his football this year," Fyfe said.

"He took a while to develop and understand what playing AFL was all about, but all signs are pointing towards him having a big year and kicking a number of goals.

"His preparation is immaculate. He's one of our best preparers and a real role model for our younger players.

"But what's changing with him is understanding that preparation alone doesn't get it done in the heat of battle on AFL game day."

Asked about Harley Bennell's return to the club last week, Fyfe said: "He's come in, put his head down, he's doing the work" and he was treating the talented midfielder like any other player. 

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