Justin Longmuir talks to his players during Fremantle's clash against Sydney in round 19, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

JUSTIN Longmuir will enter 2024 a "more confident, capable coach" than at any stage in his four completed seasons in the top job after learning from Fremantle's experiences in a disappointing campaign last year. 

The coach has also declared supreme confidence in his players to bounce back after a pre-season being pushed to the limit with their fitness and improving elements of the game style and execution that let the team down last year. 

Longmuir is in the final year of the contract extension he signed at the end of 2021 and described himself as a "self-critical" coach who was constantly finding ways to improve, entering 2024 focused and optimistic. 

"You don't get worse in this job, hopefully. I feel a much more confident, capable coach than even this time last year," Longmuir told AFL.com.au

"We talk about the experiences of last year and how our players need to learn from them, I'm the same. 

"I think I've been pretty self-critical of my own coaching. The passion for my coaching comes from me wanting to be the best coach I can be so I can help the players be the best they can be. 

Justin Longmuir speaks to his players during Fremantle's match simulation against West Coast on February 24, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

"Part of that is making sure I'm consistently trying to improve everything that I do, and part of that is going overseas at the end of the year and visiting other organisations, part of that is making sure you reflect week in, week out on your coaching practices and the way you prepare the players, review games, coach on matchday. All those types of things."

On his own contract, Longmuir said: "My focus doesn't live in what's best for me. My focus lives in preparing the players and making sure the people around me are well supported and improving every day."

The coach said he felt "really supported" by his club, chief executive Simon Garlick, and football manager Joe Brierty ahead of an important season for the club, which enters its 30th year and is looking to bounce back from a 10-win campaign in 2023. 

"I'm really confident. I'm in a good space, the pre-season has given me a lot of confidence, the way we play when we play our best footy gives me a lot of confidence," Longmuir said.  

"The improvement of individuals on our playing list has given me a lot of confidence. There won't be a game I go into this year thinking we can't win."

Tom Emmett and Michael Walters celebrate a goal for Fremantle against West Coast on February 24, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Asked what he wanted the Dockers' biggest strength to be in 2024, Longmuir said: "Our No.1 goal as a team is to be the most organised team in the comp, and the most prepared team in the comp, week in, week out.

"That ties back to consistency, players knowing their roles really clearly, and then having the freedom to go out there and execute them. 

"When we're well connected, we're communicating, and we’re organised, that's a great starting point for your gameplan to flow off. 

"People get caught up in Xs and Os and I'm one of them at times, but if you can have a platform of roles, organisation and connection, it's a good platform to be able to attack and defend off." 

The Xs and Os that have been a focus of Fremantle's pre-season include the wing role vacated by Liam Henry (St Kilda) and the small forward position left available by Lachie Schultz (Collingwood). 

Lachie Schultz in action during Collingwood's practice match against Richmond on February 27, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

With former Gold Coast wingman Jeremy Sharp a standout this pre-season before missing a match simulation against West Coast with illness, and draftee Cooper Simpson consistently impressing as a half-forward and midfielder, there are options for the coach.  

"Jeremy Sharp has come in and done a fantastic job on the wing. Talk about fitness, he has blown up the GPS all pre-season and really embraced the wing role we've given him and tweaks with how we need him to do it differently," Longmuir said. 

"And the one thing that's impressed me most about 'Coops' is the purpose in which he attacks everything he does. 

"That's No.1. Everyone sees his footy traits and the skills he's been showing in our intraclubs and training, and that excites me. But I feel like that all stems from the purpose in which he does things … he hasn't done much wrong, so we'll see how it all pans out."