A fit and firing Alex Pearce is not only hopeful of playing a full season in 2022, he’s hopeful of having plenty of support from his fellow key defenders at Fremantle.
With Joel Hamling showing promise on the track as he returns from a serious ankle injury, Fremantle could have the likes of Pearce, Hamling, Brennan Cox, Luke Ryan, Griffin Logue and the up-and-coming Heath Chapman available for round one on 20 March against Adelaide.
While Pearce stopped short of calling for six talls in Freo’s backline setup, he said the versatility of the individuals in the group meant that senior coach Justin Longmuir had plenty of options.
“That’s something I’ll have to ask JL but I think we can all play,” Pearce said.
“The good thing about a lot of us is we’re quite versatile. Everyone can play on the smaller players.
“I’m quite comfortable playing on smalls, Joel certainly is. Griffin often last year took the most dangerous smalls. There is that flexibility there.
“I think Luke Ryan over the past couple of years has been asked to play a lot taller than what we’d like. For him to be able to play as the third or fourth tall and then to be able to roll off, I think that’s where we see him at his best.
“I think there’s a chance that we do all play together but if not, it’s just great competition to really push ourselves and I think it’s so healthy having really good competition for spots and it means we’re really battling it out here on the track.”
Pearce said he’s never felt fitter or more confident in his body ahead of his eighth season.
He played all but one game after making his return in round 13 last season, playing 10 games for the year.
“I feel really good. It’s been nice to play that second half of the season last year and be able to just roll into the pre-season,” Pearce said.
“It’s given me a really good base and I feel like I’m starting to notice that a bit more, to have that consistency in my training, I’m starting to feel a bit fitter and stronger and the pre-season’s been a lot easier.
“My first five to six years have been interrupted, it was hard to get the continuity going with my training and I’d have to just start again and build back up from an average base. Whereas now, I feel like I’ve got my strong base from the finish off the season, being able to build.
“Fingers crossed that keeps on going but from my body’s point of view, everything feels healthy and I’m starting to feel fit and strong. It’s nice.”
He said Hamling was tracking well on the track as he builds to 100 per cent full training with the main group.
“Joel’s been going really well. We’re really good mates and have spent a lot of time together over the years,” Pearce said.
“It’s something that will be really special if we can put a full year together and it’s something I’ll definitely look forward.
“It’s nice to be able to share some time on the track together.”