THERE is growing excitement at Fremantle around dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe's prospects in 2024 and his ability to help fix the team's onball issues after returning to "the Fyfey of old" this summer.
Fyfe, who has trained as a permanent midfielder this pre-season after moving forward in recent years, has shone in several match practice sessions and has a clean bill of health after two seasons severely impacted by injuries.
Teammate Jordan Clark said he was excited to play alongside Fyfe more after running out together just 16 times across the past two seasons, with the former captain's return to the midfield generating excitement among the group.
"Absolutely. I remember when I came home, I sat in Fyfey's house with him and we had a coffee or a cup of tea and I just told him how excited I was to play with him because of what he can do and the type of player he is," Clark said on Thursday.
"Unfortunately he hasn't got the body right so far and he always reminds me that we haven't played many games together.
"The way he's gone about it this pre-season, it's really exciting to be around and he seems to be back to the 'Fyfey' of old and I can't wait to run out there with him and see him at work."
While club champion and All-Australian Caleb Serong enjoyed an outstanding 2023 and fellow vice-captain Andrew Brayshaw hit strong form at stages, the Dockers' midfield didn't fire collectively, particularly in the centre square.
The team ranked 16th for average centre clearances (11.1) and looked to add size to the engine room late in the year when defender Hayden Young was redeployed with good results, setting up his move into the middle more permanently this year.
Clark hoped that Fyfe could also give the team a physical edge in the middle after putting all his stoppage weapons on display this pre-season.
"[He's shown] all the stuff that Fyfey does and we all know him for," Clark said.
"He's an absolute beast around the contest and with his aerial stuff. He's physically gifted, he's a big man, he's powerful and he just adds a different dimension to us.
"It's something we've probably missed around our midfield group with him not being in there. His knowledge of the game to be able to pass it on and help all those boys learn is amazing, so he's been very important for us."
On his own pre-season, Clark said he had "put his foot down" this summer after finishing 2023 unsatisfied with his own form, with the hard work paying off on the track.
Young's move to the midfield had also opened leadership opportunities for Clark in defence, where he has stood out as a reliable distributor this summer and a player who is giving the Dockers bounce out of the backline in match play.
"Something I wanted to do individually was set myself up the best I can for this year ahead," Clark said.
"Coming off last year I wasn't overly stoked with how I went so it was off my own bat to put the foot down and out my head down and get to work. I think everyone in the group, to be fair, has done the same thing.
"[It's helped with] energy, the way I can cover the ground, just getting involved and even being more of a voice out there.
"With Youngy moving up to the midfield, there goes another leadership role down back. So just being able to help 'Moose' (Alex Pearce) and Lukey Ryan out is something I've wanted to do."
Clark was also full of praise for young star Jye Amiss who is looking to improve on his 41-goal second season, comparing the 20-year-old to Geelong superstar and former teammate Jeremy Cameron.
"I would say he's not too dissimilar if I'm very honest," Clark said.
"The way he moves at ground level, he can pick up ground balls, he kicks goals from everywhere, he's very accurate.
"I think Jye is going to be a very popular player in the AFL for however long he plays for and it's exciting that we've got him here at Freo."