Fremantle skipper Hayley Miller says her teammates will have ‘fire in their belly’ to bounce back after a disappointing day against Melbourne at Optus Stadium on Saturday.
A tough day of challenges saw Freo go down by 88 points to the impressive Demons outfit.
It was a promising start to the match when young Freo forward Makaela Tuhakaraina kicked the opening goal of the match, but momentum soon turned.
Miller said it’s a performance that will be heavily reviewed.
“We never go out and play like that, it’s really disappointing and to be honest, a little embarrassing,” Miller said.
“We’ll obviously go back to the drawing board and look at that throughout the week really harshly.”
The Demons played strong all over the ground making it a challenge for Fremantle’s side, particularly off the back of some last-minute changes to the team’s lineup.
Experienced Fremantle pair Kara and Ebony Antonio, as well as tough defender Emma O’Driscoll were ruled out late on Saturday under the AFL’s Health and Safety Protocols.
“It was a pretty stressful morning finding out the news and just knowing that we’ve got to try and pull the girls together and not let it get everyone down too much, or too stressed and anxious about it,” Miller said.
The news saw top-up player Mikayla Western make her AFLW debut with only a moment’s notice due to Fremantle having just 20 available players for the match.
The WAFLW player was down south in Dunsborough working on a university assignment, when she received the call from Senior Coach Trent Cooper just hours before the bounce.
Arriving 25 minutes prior to the opening bounce, Western was greeted by raucous applause from her now teammates for the day.
“She came in a little bit late to the warm up in her uni gear. She just walked into the room and everyone got around her. It’s pretty incredible to get a call up from the coach,” Miller said.
“I know it was actually quite hard for Trent to get a hold of her initially, he then sent her a text and asked if she’d like to play a game of footy today so that’s pretty incredible for her.
“For Mikayla to go and take a run and a bounce on Optus Stadium is something she’ll remember forever.”
Fremantle’s Maggie MacLachlan and Sarah Wielstra also made their AFLW debuts.
Wielstra split her time between forward and ruck, providing valuable tap work at the centre bounce.
MacLachlan provided a bright spark at the end of a disappointing day for Freo, taking a strong mark in the final stages of the match before turning to play on and kick her first AFLW goal.
Miller said her teammates will be ready to come back stronger in next weekend’s clash with Gold Coast.
The skipper praised the support of the Fremantle members and supporters in attendance on Saturday.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do during the week and no doubt the girls will use that fire in their belly to come back firing,” Miller said.
“Walking off the ground to hear everyone cheering for us just genuinely happy to be here and to support us is phenomenal, and we really hear that support all the time whether we win, lose or draw.”