Fremantle Backline coach Matthew Boyd believes the bond shared among the Club’s defenders will strengthen the team heading into the 2024 season. 

Boyd humorously noted that the backline has a mixture of different personalities, but when combined they form a formidable defensive unit.  

“I think there is a good mixture of book smarts and street smarts within our backline,” Boyd said on SportFM Wednesday morning. 

“Alex (Pearce) is a smart guy, I think he’s close to finishing a psychology degree. I think James Aish has finished a psychology degree. I’m not sure what sort of education level Luke Ryan has, but he’s certainly on the street-smart side of things. There is a good mix in there.

“The players give each other a lot of feedback around that (defensive positioning), and I know that Alex (Pearce), Luke, Brennan (Cox), and these sorts of guys are always positioning and putting our rucks and the other players where they need to be in terms of defence. 

When speaking to the West Australian last week, Ryan said the back six were a tight-knit group of mates who know how to bring the best out of each other on-field. 

“There is just something about being in the back six, we’re just real close mates and get around each other, bounce off each other and it’s just a good line to be a part of,” Ryan said to the West Australian. 

“We are not the sharpest of blokes down back, we all like to have a laugh.

Luke Ryan.

“We love having him (Pearce) down there, his voice is enormous, he gets me out of my skin, he gets everyone out of their skin and he is unbelievable for what he does.

“He knows a few trigger words that get me up and about and I know a few words for him, so we all feed off each other because we are all close and we know what to say to each other.

Brennan Cox, Luke Ryan and Alex Pearce in the backline.

“That’s what real good teams do and that’s what a good skipper does.

“Sometimes he can get heated when it’s hot, which every person does, but we know where it’s coming from and he’s a smart guy and he says the right thing nearly every time.”

In 2022, when Fremantle finished fifth on the ladder and made a Semi-final, the Club ranked first for restricting opposition scores per inside 50, ranked second for points against, and ranked sixth for points scored from turnovers. A defensive profile the team is looking to replicate in the Club’s 30-year anniversary in 2024.