Dockers forward Matt Taberner
FREMANTLE leader Alex Pearce has thrown his support behind Matt Taberner to form part of a “really dangerous” tall forward line alongside boom recruits Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb next season.
The make-up of the Dockers’ best attack is up for debate, with Taberner, Brennan Cox and Cam McCarthy in the mix to line-up alongside Hogan and Lobb.
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Finding the balance between primarily stay-at-home marking targets and more mobile options – such as Taberner and McCarthy – will be a puzzle for coach Ross Lyon to piece together in the build-up to round one.
But key backman Pearce had no doubt Taberner deserved a spot and would benefit from Hogan and Lobb’s presence.
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“If I was picking the best 22 I think he’d (Taberner) be in there. I wouldn’t want to play defence for a team that has to deal with him, Hogan and Lobb,” Pearce told 6PR.
“I think if we can get all those three fit they can be really dangerous for us.
“Obviously, Rory can go in the ruck a bit as well. Tabs has had a very good pre-season, has come back in ripping nick and is training really well.
“I think he showed in the first month or so of last season what he can do at AFL level. I’m excited to see what he can do, especially with those boys next to him.”
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Taberner appeared ready to take the next step and lead the attack last season before breaking his foot in round five.
The 199cm big man averaged more than six marks in the opening month and returned for the final four games to finish the campaign with 10 goals in nine matches.
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Cox, 20, showed encouraging signs in Taberner’s absence, booting 18 majors in 16 appearances, but could be shifted back to defence after Hogan and Lobb’s arrivals.
Meanwhile, there are high hopes McCarthy, who has kicked 44 goals in the past two years, can recapture his best without the pressure of being a primary target.
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The Dockers have struggled to hit the scoreboard since embarking on their rebuild, ranking bottom three for scoring since 2016, but Pearce flagged a change in game-style with bigger bodies to aim at and a boost in firepower.
“When you’ve got those two (Hogan and Lobb) … and Matt Taberner, I would like to think, in the same forward line it probably gives us a bit more opportunity to kick long and get it in there and let them get to work and let our smalls get to their feet,” Pearce said.
“I think we can be quite dangerous doing that, it’s definitely something we’ve worked on. – Alex Pearce
“We haven’t had Jesse (navicular stress fracture) out there training yet, but I think he’s getting very close so that will be exciting when he joins the boys on the track.
“Our time on the Gold Coast (training camp in December), we did a little bit of work on some game-plan stuff. With all the new players we’ve had over the last couple of years it’s always good to try and get everyone together and learning together.
“Give us another month or two and hopefully everyone will be on the same page and we’ll be shaping pretty well for the start of the season.”
Source: AFL FOOTBALL NEWS