Longmuir expresses confidence in the star ruck pair’s ability to regain their peak performance levels.

FREMANTLE coach Justin Longmuir is optimistic that his top-tier ruck pairing can replicate the level of performance demonstrated during a month-long winning streak last season once Sean Darcy returns to partner with Luke Jackson on the opposite side of the field.

Darcy will accompany the Dockers on their upcoming 10-day road trip to South Australia for consecutive matches against Carlton and Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, with the 25-year-old anticipated to make his comeback from a knee injury against the Power.

While Jackson has excelled as the primary ruckman during Fremantle’s undefeated start to the season, Longmuir expressed his preference for the duo to collaborate and recapture the form they exhibited between rounds eight and 11 last season.

During that period, Darcy delivered dominant performances in the ruck before sustaining a hamstring injury, while Jackson showcased his versatility by performing admirably both as a forward and in the midfield.

“In essence, we aim to revert to utilizing them in the same manner as we did during the stretch last year, when they both exhibited exceptional form in the four games leading up to the bye, prior to Sean’s injury,” remarked Longmuir on Wednesday. “I believe they were both performing at near career-best levels during that time.”

“There will be an adjustment period for Sean to improve his fitness and handle extended ruck duties, so initially, they’ll likely share the ruck responsibilities. We value Luke’s versatility both as a forward and in the midfield, where he excels at ground-level ball-winning.

While there’s some work to be done, both Sean and Luke will feature in the team once they’re fully fit… but we’ll focus on that next week.”

The Dockers are set to take on Carlton at Adelaide Oval on Saturday, with the formidable duo of Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow posing a significant threat after tallying a combined nine goals against North Melbourne’s undersized defense last week.

Longmuir expressed confidence in promising young defender Josh Draper’s ability to handle the challenge of marking one of Carlton’s key forwards, should the need arise in just his third game. He identified Captain Alex Pearce and the versatile Luke Ryan as other defensive options for containing the Blues’ forward threats.

“He’s (Draper) selected in the team to fulfill a key defensive role, particularly against opposing key forwards. Carlton’s forwards are currently in fine form, receiving good service and winning contests,” remarked Longmuir.

“But that’s precisely why Drapes is included in the team. We’ll observe how it unfolds. We haven’t finalized our match-ups or structure yet. However, there will be various strategies employed up the field to support Pearcey, Drapes, and Luke.”

Longmuir emphasized that the key to containing McKay and Curnow, who have amassed 11 and 10 goals respectively this season, would be dominating contests and restricting forward supply. He highlighted the Blues’ ability to generate 62 inside 50s last week, resulting in 21 goals, emphasizing the importance of midfield performance and solid defensive play in the front half.


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