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Peel first, then Freo: Docker puts off talks

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Matt Taberner is yet to commit his future to the Dockers - Fremantle,Matt Taberner
Matt Taberner is yet to commit his future to the Dockers

FREMANTLE key forward Matt Taberner will wait until the end of Peel Thunder's WAFL finals campaign before weighing up his football future. 

AFL.com.au understands the Dockers recently tried to open contract talks with Taberner, but the out-of-contract Victorian deferred discussions until the Thunder's season is over. 

Taberner starred in Peel's second semi-final win over Subiaco last Sunday with four goals and 16 marks, and will be a key player for Freo's WAFL affiliate when it bids for back-to-back premierships on Sunday week. 

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Taberner's manager, Anthony McConville of Mac's Sports, told AFL.com.au on Tuesday his client's focus for the next two weeks would be on the WAFL Grand Final.

"Matt played eight games (for Fremantle) this year so he needs to sit back and assess his season and what he wants to do going forward. Fremantle ideally would like to start talks now, but it will all be done once he completes his season," McConville said. 

"Peel has the weekend off this week and then Matt will be focused on helping them win the premiership. 

"After that he'll look at what's available at Fremantle, but we'll leave that until the end of the year."

The 199cm forward could attract rival interest in a market starved of uncontracted spearheads, with 2017 free agents Sam Reid and Levi Casboult having re-signed with Sydney and Carlton respectively. 

Although rumblings persist Lion Josh Schache could be attainable in the trade period, the second-year forward has re-signed until the end of 2019 and his management and the Lions insist he's not going anywhere. 

So clubs looking to bolster their tall forward stocks such as Richmond and Collingwood could need to widen their searches.

After playing 32 senior games from 2015-16, including a career-high 17 matches in 2016, Taberner managed just eight games this season and kicked 11 goals.

His first game this year, in round seven against Essendon, was his best, with the former rookie finishing with four goals, seven contested marks and six marks inside forward 50.

Taberner also showed encouraging signs when recalled for the final three home and away rounds. Although he only kicked three goals in that stretch, he took 23 marks, 11 of them contested and nine inside forward 50.

Taberner has also been a strong performer in the WAFL this year, kicking 39 goals from 15 games to sit ninth on the competition's goalkicking table. 

A mature-age recruit in the 2013 Rookie Draft, the former Murray Bushranger has played 53 games in his five seasons at Fremantle.