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Dockers load up with stars for NAB Challenge opener against Tigers

Travis King and Alex Malcolm  February 17, 2016 4:10 PM

AFL 2016 Media - Fremantle Team Photo Day

David Mundy and Nat Fyfe will both suit up in the first NAB Challenge game for the Dockers

FREMANTLE superstar Nat Fyfe and former skipper Matthew Pavlich have been named in a strong Dockers squad for Friday's NAB Challenge clash against an inexperienced Richmond team.

The Tigers are leaving most of their big names behind for the trip to Mandurah, with skipper Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt, Brett Deledio, Alex Rance and Dustin Martin sitting out the trip west.

Defender Nick Vlastuin will captain the Tigers in Cotchin's absence, while assistant coach Brendon Lade will take over the reins from Damien Hardwick for the match. 

Fyfe has had an injury-interrupted pre-season recovering from surgery on his fractured leg and a bulging disc suffered in December, but the Brownlow medallist's powerful intraclub performance last Friday dispelled any doubts over his fitness.

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said Fyfe's back injury was very minor.

"He's had a full summer and he's back early so it couldn't have been too bad," Lyon said.

"It was blown out of all proportion. We understand why. He's a very important player, reigning Brownlow medallist. It was a mountain out of a molehill to be honest."  

New skipper David Mundy, Aaron Sandilands and Michael Walters are some of the other stars set to line up in Freo's first hit-out of 2016. 

Lyon said the experienced trio of Mundy, Pavlich and Sandilands would play the majority of the NAB Challenge.

The Dockers' first draft pick Darcy Tucker is in the mix to pull on the purple guernsey for the first time, as is former Box Hill mature-age defender Sam Collins.

Star recruit Harley Bennell is still working his way back to full training after ongoing calf issues. But Lyon confirmed that Bennell would play at some stage in the NAB Challenge.

Richmond draftees Daniel Rioli, Oleg Markov, Nathan Broad, Callum Moore, Mabior Choi and mature-age recruit Adam Marcon could all debut in yellow and black in the 4.10pm (AWST) clash.

"We've left 8-10 experienced players out, and those positions will be up for grabs..." Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said.
"Our list has got better every year ... I look forward to the competition it brings about in our players. 
"We’re going to get some good results out of it." 

However, Hardwick confirmed that former Blue Chris Yarran won't play any part in the NAB Challenge and could miss the first eight rounds of the season after repeated calf injuries.

Big-bodied midfield recruit Jacob Townsend could also make his debut for the Tigers after 28 games in four years for Greater Western Sydney.

Fremantle v Richmond, Rushton Park
Friday 19 February at 4.10pm AWST


1. Hayden Ballantyne, 3. Zac Dawson, 5. Garrick Ibbotson, 6. Danyle Pearce, 7. Nat Fyfe, 8. Nick Suban, 9. Matt de Boer, 10. Michael Walters, 11. Tommy Sheridan, 12. Jonathon Griffin, 13. Tendai Mzungu, 14. Lachie Weller, 16. David Mundy, 18. Darcy Tucker, 19. Connor Blakely, 20. Matt Taberner, 21. Michael Barlow, 23. Chris Mayne, 27. Lachie Neale, 28. Brady Grey, 29. Matthew Pavlich, 31. Aaron Sandilands, 32. Stephen Hill, 33. Cameron Sutcliffe, 34. Lee Spurr, 36. Alex Silvagni, 38. Jack Hannath, 40. Sam Collins, 46. Clancee Pearce.


1. Nick Vlastuin, 5. Brandon Ellis, 6. Shaun Grigg, 7. Ben Lennon, 11. Jack Batchelor, 12. David Astbury, 17. Daniel Rioli, 21. Jacob Townsend, 23. Kane Lambert, 24. Ben Griffiths, 25. Troy Chaplin, 27. Sam Lloyd, 29. Ty Vickery, 30. Reece Conca, 31. Oleg Markov, 32. Corey Ellis, 33. Kamdyn McIntosh, 34. Liam McBean, 35. Nathan Broad, 36. Callum Moore, 37. Connor Menadue, 38. Steven Morris, 40. Dan Butler, 41. Mobior Chol, 43. Todd Elton, 44. Adam Marcon, 45. Jayden Short, 46. Jason Castagna, 47. Ivan Soldo.