After seeing star player Stephen Hill limited to three games in 2019, Fremantle fans can look forward to having a virtual new recruit when the classy veteran returns in 2020.
Hill ticked an important box for his pre-season after getting through his required minutes in Friday’s intraclub game at Victor George Kailis Oval.
He played predominantly at half back and was one of Fremantle’s best, turning back the clock as he sold some candy to his opponent as he breezed through the middle early in the contest.
He also pushed forward to kick a goal in the second, and just before coming off for the day, he delivered perfectly to hit Rory Lobb on the lead who goaled.
After being held back at times throughout the past two seasons with a complicated quad injury, the 29-year-old said he has benefited from a long period on the sidelines.
“The body’s feeling really good. I’ve haven’t had any interruptions this pre-season and it’s been good to get through it,” Hill said.
“It’s been a tough couple of years but I’m feeling much better and I had a good hitout today.
“The quad’s been good, I haven’t had any issues since last year.
“I think I just needed a bit of time for it to heal and I’ve had that time now, it’s gotten a lot stronger and I haven’t had any issues.”
Hill is set to continue playing in defence as a leader for a young backline, which is set to feature the likes of top-10 draftee Hayden Young and the versatile Brennan Cox, who has made the switch from the forward line.
“I’ve been training down back this pre-season so I think I’ll be playing off the half back,” Hill said.
“We’ve got a young backline so it’s just building that chemistry and it’s looking good.
“Hayden’s a really great kick and he’s really poised with the ball so he’s going to be exciting for the years to come.
“Brennan’s really good down back, he reads the ball well so we know he’ll be handy down there.”
Hill said the team was transitioning well to senior coach Justin Longmuir’s game plan.
“We’ve been training well and it’s good to start implementing what we’ve been doing at training into game simulation,” Hill said.
“We’re starting to build and improve our footy now. We’re still working on it (the new game plan) but it’s improving a lot. We’ll keep building over the next couple of weeks and into round one.”
Hill said a number of young players impressed him in the hitout, including draftee running midfielder Michael Frederick.
“Michael’s got some speed and he’s athletic, so he’ll be a dangerous player,” Hill said.
“Hopefully, we see him continue to build and we’ll see what he can do this year.
“All of those boys are growing. Andy (Brayshaw), Cez (Adam Cerra), Darcy Tucker - those boys are really stepping up and they were looking really good out there today.
“Lachie Schultz was looking good today, he took a good mark over Brett (Bewley) I think it was. I’m sure there will be some video footage so we can get into ‘Binga’, it was a good mark.
“Trav Colyer was looking pretty good and Brandon Matera. A lot of the boys impressed me today.”