Sam Sturt needs more time building in the WAFL before securing a return to the AFL, according to Senior Coach Justin Longmuir.

The 22-year-old has kicked three goals in each of his past three appearances for Peel, most recently kicking 3.0 at the weekend against South Fremantle. He also had a pre-season haul of 5.1 against East Perth.

The general forward last played for Fremantle in round one in 2021 and has endured an injury interrupted start to his AFL career, playing four games since being drafted ahead of the 2020 season.

Longmuir acknowledged Sturt’s ability, but is in no rush to see the talented forward return after last year’s season-ending knee injury in May.

“He’s been hitting the scoreboard, but he’s not playing to the intensity we need at the moment,” Longmuir said.

“Like all of our players, we want them to come into the AFL side and impact and contribute. We don’t want him to just come in for one week and then out.

“Sam just hasn’t got back to the intensity that he was at before the injuries he’s had, so we’re working with him on that.

“We’ve seen some improvement. We just need to see it more consistently and he’s well aware of that.”

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Longmuir highlighted that players coming in and out of the forward line haven’t helped Fremantle’s recent dip in form.

Freo have had to make multiple changes due to Covid in recent weeks, as well as the likes of Matt Taberner (hamstring) and Sam Switkowski (concussion) missing games.

“I think there’s been a number of factors over the past couple of weeks that haven’t helped,” Longmuir said.

“You look at the amounts of ins and outs we’ve had over the past few weeks, it’s led to a bit of an unsettled team and the guys that missed through Covid probably haven’t come back into the form they would have liked. Some players in particular.

“We’ve just had so much disruption to our forward line. We need to settle our team down again, get some continuity and get our form back first and foremost. All we can do now is look forward and try and regain the cohesion we had prior to the last couple of weeks.”

While disappointed with Fremantle’s recent losses to Gold Coast and Collingwood, he said the players had learned some valuable lessons in the past fortnight.

“These are all great experiences for all our players, it makes sure that it doesn’t matter if you win a couple or lose a couple, you keep your foot on the pedal and learn, improve and move on,” Longmuir said.

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