There will be no lack of motivation for Fremantle’s playing group throughout the pre-season as they stew on a disappointing round 23 performance, according to ruckman Sean Darcy.
After their round 22 RAC Derby win, which Darcy said was Freo’s best in 2021, Fremantle followed up with a 58-point loss against St Kilda with their season on the line.
“I think we showed some glimpses of what we can do and what we’re capable of as a group but we’re really disappointed in how we finished that last game,” Darcy said.
“We thought we could have made the eight and have a fair shake of it this year but some performances and inconsistencies throughout games and weeks really hurt us. We’re going to have to learn to get better through this pre-season.
“As a team, the West Coast win, we moved the ball really well in the first quarter we scored 50 points, the boys were looking really dangerous. We were really strong, our tackling was really fierce and it’s something that we really want to be.”
Darcy was arguably Fremantle’s most improved player in 2021 and it came off the back of some simple pre-season expectations.
While he worked on improving his follow-up and connection with the midfield, his main aim was to play as much football as possible.
“Personally, I just wanted to be healthy again. I had a knee injury early in the pre-season and that shut me down for a little bit. Just tried to play some good footy throughout the year, be healthy and be available for most of the game,” Darcy said.
“I worked really hard in the pre-season as my follow up around the contest. I thought it was something that I could bring that I wasn’t bringing that until this year.
“With (assistant coach) Joel Corey coming over, I worked really hard with him, he’s very knowledgeable and a great coach for me, and Aaron (Sandilands), we were basing the game off the contest and my presence on ground level.”
Darcy ranked fourth for hitouts to advantage in 2021, an impressive feat considering he played more as a forward for eight games in 2021 when fellow ruck Lloyd Meek was in the team.
His hitout to advantage win percentage of 19 per cent trailed only Nic Naitanui in the AFL (20.8 per cent).
The 23-year-old said his effectiveness as a ruck came down to the efforts of the midfield.
“I had quality mids underneath me. It’s pretty easy when you’re hitting the balls to Andy Brayshaw, Nat Fyfe, David Mundy and Caleb Serong.
“They make the job a little bit easier. I’m really lucky to work with a really good group of mids who really want to improve and get as much out of each other from each session.”