Fremantle has embarked on a new era after last year's disastrous four-win campaign and is expected to be much more competitive in 2017. Club great Matthew Pavlich has hung up the boots, but the Dockers have recruited Cam McCarthy (GWS) and former Cat Shane Kersten in attack, along with premiership players Bradley Hill (Hawthorn) and Joel Hamling (Bulldogs). Superstar Nat Fyfe returns from a broken leg to lead the club for the first time as captain. Fyfe watched with envy last season as Patrick Dangerfield claimed his crown as the AFL's best player, and seeing the Brownlow medallists lock horns again will be worth the price of admission. The Cats have faced a summer of questions about their reliance on midfield stars Dangerfield and skipper Joel Selwood following their humiliating preliminary final defeat to Sydney. How Chris Scott's men bounce back, without retired champions Corey Enright and Jimmy Bartel, will be one of the season's intriguing storylines.
WHERE AND WHEN: Domain Stadium, Sunday, March 26, 4.40pm AWST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide
PAST FIVE TIMES
R17, 2016, Geelong 11.12 (78) d Fremantle 9.7 (61) at Domain Stadium
R2, 2015, Fremantle 15.14 (104) d Geelong 9.6 (60) at Simonds Stadium
R20, 2014, Geelong 12.9 (81) d Fremantle 11.13 (79) at Simonds Stadium
R9, 2014, Fremantle 13.18 (96) d Geelong 9.10 (64) at Domain Stadium
2QF, 2013, Fremantle 12.15 (87) d Geelong 9.18 (72) at Simonds Stadium
THE SIX POINTS
1. Patrick Dangerfield was the difference last time the teams met, earning three Brownlow votes after picking up 31 disposals and booting four goals. He also won four clearances and delivered eight inside 50s.
2. The Cats were the fifth-best contested possession side in 2016, mainly thanks to Dangerfield (AFL No.2) and Joel Selwood (eighth).
3. The Dockers had one of their worst seasons at Domain Stadium last year, losing nine of 12 matches. Geelong enjoyed success interstate with four wins from five games.
4. Geelong ranked second for centre clearances last season - averaging 13.6 per game - compared to Fremantle (16th, 11.5 per game) which struggled without superstar Nat Fyfe and ruckman Aaron Sandilands for most of the campaign.
5. The Dockers hope recruits Cam McCarthy and Shane Kersten can boost their firepower after they ranked 16th for points last year with 71 per game. The Cats averaged 99 points for (AFL No.3).
6. Nat Fyfe was usurped by Patrick Dangerfield for top spot in theSchick AFL Player Ratings after round 12 last season. Fyfe has since slipped all the way to 29th after re-breaking his leg in round five.
IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Nat Fyfe.
After being elevated to the captaincy, Fyfe will lead the Dockers into their new era in his comeback home-and-away match from a broken leg. Fyfe has admitted he was jealous watching Patrick Dangerfield's stunning Brownlow Medal-winning season last year and the midfield bulls will renew their rivalry this Sunday.
PREDICTION: Geelong by 10 points