Fremantle can be a better team with champion midfielder Nat Fyfe playing forward as long as Fremantle's young midfielders can take control of the centre square this season, according to senior coach Justin Longmuir.
Fyfe trained with Freo's forwards for long periods this summer and appears set to continue his transition into a forward/midfielder this season, despite a brilliant showing in the centre square in Saturday's scratch match against West Coast.
Longmuir believed his team would be better when the 29-year-old was able to play forward, but midfield supply was the key to unlocking the dual Brownlow medallist in attack.
"I think we're a better team when he's forward, when we're getting the ball inside forward 50," Longmuir told AFL.com.au.
"(But) there's no point having him forward when we're not getting it there.
"We know over the last 10-12 years that he helps get the ball in there with his work around stoppage and centre bounce in particular.
"That's the balance we need to find.
Fyfe attended eight of the nine centre bounces in the first half of Saturday's practice match against the Eagles and was the dominant player on the ground before finishing at half-time and completing his own running session.
Longmuir said it was impossible to predict the split Fyfe will have between midfield and forward after playing 31.1 per cent of his minutes in attack last season.
The superstar midfielder played as little as 13 per cent game time in attack and as much as 57 per cent and will again move between his two roles.
It was a big shift from his 2019 Brownlow Medal year (92.8 per cent midfield) and 2015 (84.5 per cent).
"He'll split his time, but it's impossible to put a percentage on how much time he'll play forward," Longmuir said.
"Sometimes he'll be in there on a needs basis, sometimes it'll be up to him on how he's feeling.
"I've said it many times before, he's got some attributes to be really dangerous forward. Someone who can mark it overhead, in a pack, on the lead, win the ball at ground level, evade tackles, he's a really dangerous match-up but he's also one of the best midfielders in the comp.
"We need to make sure we find the right balance."
Teammate Michael Walters played predominantly forward against the Eagles and kicked 4.2, with Longmuir saying the classy Docker will play "more forward" this season after kicking seven goals across the final three games of 2020.
"The last three or four games last year when he was forward he had a real impact for us and we need not only his skill and footy ability down there we need his leadership as well," the coach said.
"We want to give him the flexibility in his game to get involved, we want the ball in his hands, and we want the ball in his hands centre-forward.
"A big part of being an efficient side forward of centre is having players who are good decision makers and can execute their skill.
"He does it the best of any person in the comp I believe. He'll play mainly forward."
Fremantle used young midfielders Adam Cerra, Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong as centre square teammates in its intra-club for almost every centre bounce as it pitted its young players against senior teammates.
The trio were again prominent against West Coast, with Brayshaw and Serong excellent and Cerra impressive before finishing at half-time with a calf complaint.
Longmuir said all three in the centre square was a combination that would be used this season.
"I think we'll see a fair bit of it," he said.
"There will be a mixture with some more experience through there with (David) Mundy, Fyfe, (Darcy) Tucker, Walters will go through the midfield at times.
"We want to build a midfield that's got some real flexibility in it, that bats deep and they'll play a big part in it."