Senior coach Justin Longmuir gave an in-depth interview with football commentator Dwayne Russell on SEN on Wednesday, discussing how he expects Fremantle to shape up in 2020.
Here are the key takeaways from the interview.
Justin Longmuir on his ‘game style’
I’ve picked up a lot of things over the past 10 years and I suppose I’ve been strongly influenced by my time at West Coast and Collingwood.
I just want (Fremantle) to be a team that really competes in every minute of every game. That’s something that all coaches say, and it’s easier said than done, but I want to be a team that finds a strong balance between our defence and offence.
I’m really impressed with the way our players have attacked the defensive sides of their game.
Over the pre-season (the coaches have) been trying to give (the players) a little bit more freedom to play with instinct on offence. We were doing a lot of things right before I arrived and it’s probably about tinkering with a few things.
I think our connection forward of centre can get a lot better, we’ve put a lot of work into that, and probably being a little bit safer with the ball in our back half.
The turnovers in our D50 in the second half of last year led to the opposition scoring easily against us. There are a few things we need to tidy up and it largely comes back to being strong and competitive around the ball with good balance.
It’s finding that balance between offence and defence…if you look at the premiership teams over the past number of years, they strike a really good balance between those two things so we’ll be looking to do that.
On Fremantle’s forward line
A good sign of a well-functioning forward line is your ability to mark the ball inside 50.
I want to be a team that connects but also I want to be a team that utilises our strengths as well. We’ve had some well-documented issues with injuries and especially to our spine during the past couple of years. At the moment, (Matt) Taberner, (Rory) Lobb and (Nat) Fyfe has been playing a good amount of time down forward, so we have some strong tall targets that we want to utilise.
I want those tall targets to be able to mark in packs from those long entries and I also want them to work together and create space for each other so we can connect.
If you do too much of one thing it makes it too easy to scout. If we’re a team that bombs it in all the time, good oppositions will drop off and intercept those balls.
We need to strike a balance between when we lower our eyes and when we look for that tall target when we go in.
On defensive pressure
To be honest I prefer our defenders to defend one-on-one. I think any defence can defend one-on-one if you have the right pressure around the ball.
My philosophy has always been to pressure the game and have your numbers up around the ball so you can put good pressure on.
If the opposition can get through without any pressure, then it doesn’t matter if you’ve got one or two extras, you’ll get sliced anyway.
I’ve always been about pressure on the ball carrier and that’s still going to be my philosophy and our structure will compliment that philosophy.
On getting to know the playing list
To be honest I didn’t know a lot of the players (when I arrived at Fremantle). We have a very young list and I think over the past three years we’ve had a really big list turnover.
I think David Mundy is the only one still playing since I was a player here, so there has been a big turnover in the past 10 years.
Everyone has a clean slate and everyone is really keen to prove themselves to a new coach and a new football program.
I’ve been really impressed with the way they’ve gone about it, they’ve really embraced the new program and I couldn’t be happier with that.