Fremantle players, including Lachie Neale, at pre-season training
FREMANTLE midfielder Lachie Neale has been praised for "pushing his body to the limit" after he left the track with signs of heatstroke during a gruelling pre-season training session on Monday.
Fremantle completed a two-hour session in 35 degree heat on Monday morning before a large group of players, including Neale, completed extra running drills at Fremantle Oval.
The 19-year-old, who played 11 games in his debut 2012 season, eventually succumbed and was helped from the ground by trainers.
"It's good that Lachie's pushing his body to the limit," teammate Matt de Boer said.
"I saw him at the end and he was fine. He was having a slushy and just rehydrating. He'll be right.
"Every session these days is really solid, but we're really enjoying it and enjoying the challenge.
"Lachie was training really well."
Neale, who played 10 consecutive games between rounds four and 14 last season, is one of several young midfielders looking to earn a spot alongside key onballers David Mundy, Nat Fyfe and Michael Barlow in the Fremantle engine room this season.
De Boer, who said he would also be knocking on the door for more midfield time, said the expected competition for spots would benefit the team.
He highlighted Viv Michie as a young player capable of breaking into the midfield this season after two years battling stress fractures in his right foot.
"He's been great. He said to me he's starting to feel like a footballer again, just running around out there," de Boer said.
"I can't be more happy for him. He's been out there dominating and I'm letting him know as well.
"He's got good skills and good core stability, so he'll be around the midfield as well.
"There's so many guys knocking on the door and that competition for spots is really healthy.
"It forces the David Mundys and the Mick Barlows to make sure they're on top of their game as well because the young boys are coming for them."
De Boer, who has excelled as a defensive forward through his 76-game career, enjoyed more midfield time in 2012, registering career-high disposals (410) and ranking No.3 at the club for contested possessions (198).
The 22-year-old's kicking efficiency also improved and he said lifting that further in 2013 had been a key focus this pre-season.
"Just working on it consistently to get that confidence with it and then executing it in games reaffirms that confidence," he said.
"I've had a few coaches and [worked] with a biomechanist, [but] it's a bit of paralysis by analysis; you can't have too many people saying too many things.
"I've been having some chats with [midfield coach Brett Kirk] and he's been really good for me and the group."
Nathan Schmook is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Nathan