As disappointed as Alex Pearce was with Fremantle’s final term fadeout in their eight-point win against Port Adelaide, the leader was thrilled to see Fremantle prevail and get the win in the milestone games for fellow defenders Luke Ryan and Nathan Wilson.
Ryan played his 100th AFL game while Wilson hit the 150-game mark in his 73rd game for Fremantle after playing 77 for GWS.
“It’s good that we can celebrate Lukey and Willo with a win, that’s nice and that’s where I’m drawing my enjoyment from because that performance was…yeah, not great,” Pearce said.
“I thought Willo was fantastic back there right at the end there in the last quarter, he had a few big moments.
“Luke was solid as ever. I also thought Youngy (Hayden Young) had a great game, obviously a very nice hang in the second quarter.
“I thought we held up pretty well, obviously the last quarter, we’ll look at it as a team and see where we went wrong and how we can improve.”
Pearce had the honour pre-game to present both Wilson and Ryan their jumpers and he took the chance to credit Wilson’s hard work to keep pushing to play game 150 after waiting until round 16 to return to the Freo line-up for his first game of the season.
“I touched on how Willo had played 149 games and this last one to get to 150 is probably the one he’s worked hardest for and put the most effort in,” Pearce said.
“It’s really been noticeable how he’s elevated himself in the pre-season and then the work that he’s done at training and Peel.
“You could easily drop your head when you’re not getting a game and you’re disappointed. He’s gone to another level with his leadership and his commitment to the playing group. I’m just so proud of him, that he was able to get to that milestone today.”
Pearce said it was easy to forget how well Wilson had played in the pre-season before sustaining a shoulder injury in a practice game against West Coast.
Wilson had a strong return to AFL level with 19 disposals, five intercepts and 324 metres gained.
“He was in career-best form in my opinion,” Pearce said.
“Unfortunately, he had that injury and then we had some guys playing some good footy and he couldn’t fight his way in there.
“It was a really special day for him and Luke to play their milestones on the same day, they’re great mates and to get the win is just fantastic for them.”