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Fyfe advice inspires Blakely to Rising Star nomination

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PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 04: Connor Blakely of the Dockers in action during the 2016 AFL Round 11 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Essendon Bombers at Domain Stadium on June 4, 2016 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media)
Connor Blakely is the round 11 NAB Rising Star nomination

• Vote for 2016's winner at the NAB AFL Rising Star hub

A HALF-TIME pep talk from injured Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe was the pick-me-up midfielder Connor Blakely needed to rise up and help power Fremantle to its first win of the season over Essendon on Saturday night.

Blakely had touched the ball just four times in the opening half against the Bombers, the equal-lowest of any player on the field.

"There's been two home games in a row now where he's (Fyfe) come into the rooms at half-time and he's given me some really good advice," Blakely told AFL.com.au.

"I hadn't really had that much of an influence on the game but he spoke about how my tackling pressure (four tackles) had been really good and I was right there at the contest yet the ball hadn't really bounced my way.

"Fyfey said, 'Don't be down about that because I know you'll respond.'"

The response certainly came as the 20-year-old finished with 25 disposals at 84 per cent efficiency and seven tackles to scoop the round 11 nomination for the NAB AFL Rising Star award.

"It kept me really positive and he just spoke about staying flat line in my emotions," Blakely said.

The considered approach suits the way Blakely, who has now played seven matches for Freo after making his debut in round 23 last season, thinks about his football.

The youngster revealed he had followed a recommendation from Leading Teams founder Ray McLean to write important things down to document significant moments in his career.

He shaved half a minute off his 3km time trial personal best in the pre-season, which was one of those times he pulled out his notebook.

"It's not every week, it's maybe once every two or three months that you write something down that was pretty significant at the time," Blakely said.

"It's important to look back and reflect upon because you do have dark times and then you do have good times. Both scenarios can help you."

Blakely, who spent his junior career at Bunbury Junior Football Club, became just the third Fremantle player in five years to be nominated for the Rising Star award.

The midfielder's nomination followed Matt Taberner in round 22, 2014 and Zac Clarke in round 20, 2011.

Blakely, Lachie Weller and Ed Langdon are all youngsters who have benefited from Fremantle's shocking run of injuries and terrible form with opportunities to prove themselves at the top level.

Blakely hopes the Dockers' emphatic 79-point win over Essendon, which took their win-loss record to 1-10 on the season, puts the tanking speculation to bed once and for all.

"It's important to make sure that people know, especially on the outside, that no one goes out to tank," Blakely said.

"We try as hard as we can each week and even on a personal level you try as hard as you can at every contest out on the field."

Want more?

• Find 2016's nominees and vote for the winner at the NAB AFL Rising Star hub
• How does the Rising Star Award work and who is eligible?