Aaron Sandilands can expect to spend periods as a tall forward option when Fremantle kicks off the 2017 season against Geelong at Domain Stadium, according to senior coach Ross Lyon.
Sandilands, who has kicked 92 goals from 244 AFL games, will continue to work in tandem with Jon Griffin after the pair worked well as a ruck/forward duo during the JLT Community Series.
“Aaron will play his role (in the ruck) and, hopefully, give us first use,” Lyon said.
“But (Geelong) has got really competent ruckmen, and we’ll back Aaron and Jon in as a combination.
“If we can get Aaron forward a fair bit, he’s a bit of a threat for us.”
Lyon said he understood why the AFL decided to bring in a rule preventing a third man from contesting the ruck contest ahead of the 2017 season.
Both Fremantle and Geelong successfully utilised a third-man up in the past, but the rule will also allow Sandilands more scope to exert his influence on the game.
Despite the rule being potentially advantageous to Sandilands, Lyon stressed that Fremantle will not be relying solely on the veteran’s contribution.
“I think every ruckman in the competition would like (the third-man up rule) because they’ve had (smaller) blokes barrelling into their kidneys and back,” Lyon said.
“(Sandilands is) an important player, but one player can’t do it all, we want and need an equal contribution across the board.”
After building a trademark around team effort since his arrival at Fremantle in 2012, Lyon said he would continue to see the importance of the side playing with intensity in 2017.
“There’s no silver bullet (in the AFL),” Lyon said.
“I think in my period here the playing group’s been able to give, win or lose, a really good effort and play with that intensity.
“The Bulldogs set the benchmark for intensity last year and it’s certainly sustainable. We want to come and compete.
“It’s a competitive business so we’d love to compete strongly.”
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