Bailey Banfield celebrated his hard-fought journey to 50 games in style on Sunday against Brisbane with a career-high four goals as Freo prevailed by 14 points at a heaving Optus Stadium.
All of Banfield’s goals came in the second half as Freo overcame a 13-point deficit at quarter time to win their second game against a top two team in a fortnight.
Banfield has 12 appearances to his name this season but five have been as a medi sub, with the 190cm forward coming on in three of those games.
The 24-year-old made the most of his opportunity against Brisbane, starting in the absence of fellow forwards Matt Taberner, Michael Walters and Sam Switkowski.
Banfield was honest in his review of his own performance and was thankful for the work done by his teammates to create his four goals.
“I actually didn't feel like it was my best game ever, in terms of doing all the little things and ticking all the boxes,” Banfield said.
“A couple of opportunities fell my way that may not normally have and then I've taken them, which was nice.”
Banfield admitted to struggling with coming in and out of the starting 22 but was able to contextualise with how well the 9-3 Fremantle are travelling.
“It's been tough, going in and out, and you sort of have to have a bit of an irrational confidence in the face of some evidence that says you're not good enough when you're the first one dropped every week,” Banfield said.
“You've got to have that confidence in yourself that you are good enough and you can go out and have performances like this. It's nice to get a bit of validation for that confidence and play well today.
“The boys have gone so well that every time I've been dropped, I'm not sure whose spot I would be taking if I wasn't.
“At least I've been able to still be involved as the medi sub and play my role in that way. I've still been around the team and contributing and I've got on a few times as well, which has been good.
“I’m trying to stay connected and play my role as best as possible, no matter what that is.”
Senior Coach Justin Longmuir has been the man who’s had to make the tough decisions on Banfield’s place in the line-up and he credited the rookie draftee with how well he’s handled each situation.
“We needed someone to stand up and hit the scoreboard and he made the most of some opportunities, so he was really important,” Longmuir said.
“I said to the players after the game and even during the week, the rub of the green doesn’t always go (Banfield’s) way with selection but he always puts the team first.
“I don’t think any of his teammates would realise how disappointed he is sometimes when he misses out, but he keeps rocking up, working on his game and gets reward for effort today, which is great.”