If there’s been one word that can describe Fremantle’s summer leading into the 2022 AFL season, it’s connection.
Whether it’s spending extra time as a group in WA due to the closed border or focusing on how their individual role fits in with the team’s aims, the players’ connection with each other has been at the forefront.
Forward Lachie Schultz said this played an important part as Freo cruised to a 97-point practice match victory on Friday against West Coast at Lathlain Park – kicking 21 goals with 12 individual goal kickers.
“I think our connection of our midfield and our forwards was exceptional today. Our ability to get the ball inside 50, get marks and kick goals was something that we’ve lacked over the past couple of years,” Schultz said.
“To see it all come together today was really exciting. We’ve been working really hard over the summer, we’ve spent a lot of the off-season together because we couldn’t go home to our other states. We spent a really good time together and trained together all summer."
Schultz contributed two goals to the total, while fellow small forwards Michael Frederick (five), Travis Colyer (three) and Bailey Banfield (three) made the most of their opportunities.
And this is with the likes of Michael Walters set to return for next week’s AAMI Community Series clash against West Coast at Fremantle Oval.
“It’s really exciting to be able to keep building our forward line together and we’ve played a couple of years together now,” Schultz said.
“We’ve still got a couple of inclusions with Sonny, JT (key forward Josh Treacy) - hopefully he can come back in - and we’ve got further depth with Sam Sturt as well.
“Whoever plays, we’re just confident in whoever’s out there and it’s exciting to see what we can do.”
Fremantle have built their small forward depth through some shrewd drafting with the likes of Schultz (pick 57 in 2018), Frederick (pick 61 in 2019), Sam Switkowski (pick 73 in 2017) and Banfield (2018 rookie draft). Walters was also a pick 53 in 2008.
Schultz said Frederick was one to keep an eye on for the future.
“Freddy is coming back from injury last year, he didn’t have a great run at it last year so it’s great to see him come back in full flight,” Schultz said.
“He’s an exciting player and the sky’s the limit for him. He’s going to have a big year and it’s exciting to see what he can do.”
Despite his excitement around his teammates’ performance, Schultz said it was important to not read too much into a pre-season result.
“We know that (West Coast) are ravaged with injuries at the moment so we can’t really take a lot out of the game,” Schultz said.
“We know that we’re coming up against them again next week so we’ll review this game and go on again.
“Round one is just around the corner. We’ve trained really hard and it’s been a tough pre-season. For games to start, everyone is just keen as.”