Justin Longmuir speaks to Nat Fyfe during Fremantle's game against Geelong in R10, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

FREMANTLE champion Nat Fyfe has the ability to return to the midfield as a more rounded onballer after completing his largest body of football work in Justin Longmuir’s five pre-seasons as coach.

The Dockers and Fyfe made the collaborative decision at the end of last season for the 32-year-old to return to the role in which he won two Brownlow medals, hoping the move would give him the best chance to perform at the highest level possible.

And while it is bold to expect Fyfe will match the career peaks he reached between 2014 and 2019 – including an extended period as the AFL’s best player – Longmuir is confident the veteran has added new elements to his midfield game that will benefit the Dockers in 2024.

"I'm feeling really positive and confident. He's done pre-seasons in my time and done large chunks of pre-season, but he hasn't done the body of football work that he's done this pre-season,” Longmuir told AFL.com.au.

"I put him back in the midfield to give him a sense of similarity, I suppose, and to be able to tap into some of that confidence, so he hasn't had to think about his footy as much as just going out there and playing a little bit more instinctively and naturally.

"I've been really impressed with his attention to the detail of the midfield and his ability to add layers on his game.

"He hasn't just relied on his contest or one aspect of his game. He's been able to win the footy in different modes, he's been great in transition, and I've been really impressed with how he's applied himself to become a more rounded midfielder."

Nat Fyfe shrugs off a Jack Buckley tackle during Fremantle's clash with GWS in round 14, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Longmuir said the discussion around Fyfe returning to the midfield "didn't take long" and it had given the three-time All Australian the strongest chance to get back to his best "in the way he holds himself and feels about his game and himself".

The Dockers also now have the luxury of utilising other aerial targets in attack following a breakout season from young star Jye Amiss, Luke Jackson's impact as a forward/ruck, and the development of pre-season standout Josh Treacy.

"The need for him (Fyfe) to give us an aerial contest forward is probably not as relevant now as it was 12 months ago, so that made the decision to put him in the midfield a lot easier," Longmuir said.

"I think everyone would have noticed over the last couple of years and last year in particular, we've been able to develop Jye and 'JT' as developing key forwards, 'Tabs' (Matt Taberner) is fully fit now, and Luke Jackson has come in and played a pretty big role in our forward line as well as a tall."

Jye Amiss celebrates a goal during Fremantle's clash against Hawthorn in round 24, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Along with the big body and contested strengths Fyfe offers, Fremantle has also shifted Hayden Young from half-back and into a permanent midfield role following a successful stint late last year.

With All-Australian Caleb Serong the club's strongest performer this pre-season, Andrew Brayshaw producing an outstanding performance in the Dockers' final intraclub, and young players creating a selection jam, Longmuir was confident the Dockers had everything they needed in the middle of the ground.

Hayden Young in action during Fremantle's clash against Geelong in round 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"I think we've got all the pieces we need," the coach said.

"[Young] gives us a point of difference because he's a left-footer, and naturally coming out of the backline he's got a bit more of a defensive mindset.

"But mixed with that is a ferocious attack on the ball and man. He doesn't lack any confidence when he gets the ball, whether that's the ability to drive out of contest or use that left foot.

"We've been able to use him in defensive type roles as well, which is something you need to go to in-season.

"Cooper (Simpson) gives us a bit more speed and burst out of clearance, so maybe that might be an option as time goes on. But I think with the mix we’ve got … we’ve got a good blend of guys that can get it done on the inside and outside."