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Freo can compete at their best - Neale

Lachie Neale addressed the media on Tuesday. Lachie Neale media conference

Star midfielder Lachie Neale believes Fremantle improved this season, but says Freo need to iron out inconsistencies to take another step forward in 2019.

After the second full season of a rebuild, Freo finished with eight wins – the same as last year – and improved their percentage slightly to 76.2.

The Dockers debuted eight players and pumped games into the next generation, moving closer to settling on a side to push back towards finals in coming seasons.

But Freo's performances fluctuated throughout 2018.  

At home, the Dockers beat Essendon, Port Adelaide and Adelaide, but finished with a 1-8 interstate record.      

Skipper Nat Fyfe admitted the Dockers are still searching for a clear identity and Neale agreed that Freo's playing style was a work in progress. 

"We've got one in mind, but it's been inconsistent," Neale said.  

"Our best football, which we've shown in small patches, can really compete with some really good sides.

"We just want to be able to deliver that consistently and be a really hard team to play against with a bit of an attacking flair and hopefully we can consistently do that next year. 

"Even on the weekend there was patches through the game against Collingwood where our ball movement and the things we've been talking about trying to improve on really came to life.

"Our list is younger than it was last year, we've brought in some excellent talent through the draft and also a couple of guys from other clubs who have come in and really delivered. 

"I think we've improved."

Neale's ability to perform near his best regularly was telling in an inexperienced line-up and he is likely to be vying with David Mundy for the Doig Medal.

Neale averaged 30.3 disposals – only dipping below 20 touches once – and led Freo for clearances (7.1), despite coming off another compromised pre-season due to groin and knee issues.

He was rewarded with selection in the All Australian 40-man squad on Monday, although he doubts he'll make the final team for the first time.

"It's a pretty good list of players and there's some guys in there that have had excellent years – especially in the midfield – so it will be a tough 22 to crack," Neale said.

"I had a little bit of a limited preparation last off-season, I didn't do much work before I got back to the club due to some injuries and what not, so off the back of that I'm pretty happy with my performance.

"But as always there's things I've got to improve and work on.  

"My body is feeling really good so I'll be able to attack this off-season really well and really hard."

Neale, who is to be married in November, called on Freo's youngsters to return to the club ready for a challenging pre-season.  

Neale said his housemate Andy Brayshaw will be there for day one and was in good spirits recovering from his broken jaw. 

"I've spoken to Andy on a weekly basis since he's been back in Melbourne and he's going really well," he said.

"He's looking forward to getting stuck into pre-season, he's a bit like me – he loves his footy.

"He's been itching to get out there and help out the boys, but his spirits are good and he'll be ready to go day one."

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