Lloyd Meek’s time at AFL level has finally come with the ruckman set to debut against Melbourne in round one at the MCG.
The 22-year-old is starting his fourth season at Fremantle after being drafted at no.69 in the 2017 NAB AFL National Draft.
Meek was told the news in Wednesday’s team meeting, where senior coach Justin Longmuir praised Meek’s perseverance.
"The reason why this excites me is because I don't think there is anyone at the club that has worked as hard on their game as Meeky has this year," Longmuir said.
"The thing I love about you mate, is you've stepped up to every challenge that we've thrown at you.
"You've stepped up this preseason and you deserve this opportunity.
Meek has endured a long and tough road to AFL level. In 2019, his season was ended by an ankle injury in the fourth quarter of what was a career-best performance for Peel against Swan Districts.
He had 36 hitouts, two goals and 20 disposals before coming off late in the game.
After recovering from the injury in early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic limited Meek’s opportunities to push for selection as Fremantle’s non-selected players played only a handful of scrimmages against fellow non-selected AFL opponents.
Meek has seized his opportunities in two pre-season games against West Coast, where he went up against the likes of Nic Naitanui and Nathan Vardy, showing he was clearly ready to compete at the top level.
While Meek has done enough to earn selection in his own right, his emergence couldn’t have come at a better time for Fremantle due to the pre-season injuries to Sean Darcy and Rory Lobb.
Darcy (knee) is listed as a test to play against Melbourne, leaving the door open for Fremantle to field two rucks against the Demons.
In an interview with 6PR on Saturday, Longmuir said he was willing to play two rucks in round one.
“I can see (Fremantle playing two rucks), we’ve got to just make sure that we get the balance of the team right,” Longmuir told 6PR.
“They’ll have to play forward and ruck … we feel like they’ve done a lot of work in both those areas. Sean actually played a fair bit of forward time last year for us with the flips he does with Rory Lobb and we’re really pleased with his ability to hit the scoreboard at times.
“We’ll look at all options and sit down as a match committee and finally sort it all out and give Melbourne all we’ve got.”