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Defender bulks up to take on power forwards

Ballas' cheeky wager with Pearce Alex Pearce is looking for redemption at the next 2km time trial after losing to Hayden Ballantyne.

Fremantle full-back Alex Pearce is balancing bulking up with maintaining his agility as he prepares for more "mentally and physically" taxing jobs on the AFL's power forwards in 2019.

Pearce made an outstanding comeback last season after nearly two years battling complications with his broken leg, playing 21 games and marshalling the Dockers' backline.

Confident in his body again, Pearce has added two kilograms this off-season and is now tipping the scales at 100kg.

"I think that's a pretty good weight for me at the moment, and with my history of injuries it's been a pretty slow build to get to my goal weight and I think I'm still going, I've still got a few kilos left in me," Pearce said. 

"When you look at some of the big forwards in the competition, they can be up around 105-110kg, so if I can bridge that gap a little bit and then maintain my real strengths, which is probably my speed and agility when the ball hits the ground, I think it will help."

Pearce shut down some dangerous spearheads last season, including Joe Daniher and Tom Lynch, and had the better of West Coast star Josh Kennedy in the first Western Derby.

But the 200cm tall found the going tougher in round 22 against Geelong when monster full-forward Tom Hawkins feasted on a flood of inside 50s and bagged six majors.  

"Tom Hawkins was quite tough when we gave up 23 unanswered goals. That wasn't a fun day," Pearce said.

"Buddy (Lance Franklin), I played on him early last year and he was something a bit different, a big power forward who can move like a bloke who is 90kg as well.

"There's plenty out there and each has got their different challenge.

"I got through OK (last season). It takes a toll definitely mentally and physically, it's not an easy thing to do but it's something both Joel (Hamling) and I relish and look forward to having that responsibility to take on those really key, power forwards.

"The only way you're going to get better is to play on that type of player and that's why it's exciting coming into this pre-season – not only do we get to play on (Matt) Taberner, (Brennan) Cox, (Cam) McCarthy, we get to play on (Rory) Lobb and (Jesse) Hogan as well."

Hogan and Lobb's arrival could push Cox into the backline next season and, with Griffin Logue returning from injury, Pearce welcomed the squeeze for spots.

"It's a great problem to have. When you look at the really good teams in the competition, that's what there is – competition for spots," the 23-year-old said.

"We've spoken about if you're going to win a premiership and go deep into finals you need to have at least 30 players you can rely on to come in and fill the job.

"There's always going to be injuries and things happen."

The Dockers were put through their paces in a two-hour training session on Friday, but several big names were on modified duties.

Star Michael Walters trained away from the main group, David Mundy ran laps – pacesetting for young ruckman Sean Darcy – and Stephen Hill was restricted to running only after a quad setback.

Warhorse Aaron Sandilands, who turns 36 next week, looked in terrific condition on Friday and was shadowed in match simulation drills by forward-ruck Lobb, while Harley Bennell was in full training ahead of a make-or-break year.

Boom recruit Hogan kicked with an assistant coach, continuing rehab on his his right foot.

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