Sam Switkowski celebrates during Fremantle's clash against Sydney in round 19, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

FREMANTLE forward Sam Switkowski's "smother of the year" against Brisbane was the highlight of an outstanding pressure game that ranked third in the important Docker's career and played a vital role in his team's winning start to the season. 

Switkowski was lauded for his effort to sprint more than 20m and leap at full stretch to smother Joe Daniher in the second quarter of the Dockers' round one win, with coach Justin Longmuir using the moment to fuel his players at half-time of the clash.

Media analyst Kane Cornes labelled it the "smother of the year" on Channel Nine this week, while Longmuir said the highly valued Docker was "super important" to providing the relentless pressure Freo wanted to play with. 

Overall, the 27-year-old's pressure rating for the game was 71 – the third highest result of his 69-game career, and the second-best effort of any non-midfield player this season, behind Melbourne's Tom Sparrow in Opening Round. 

Switkowski, who also laid nine tackles and registered a game-high 30 pressure acts, said he knew he was a chance to land the smother given Daniher's preference to wind up for long-range kicks, but he had mistimed the leap.

"In the end I actually got there a bit early and didn't smother it with my hands, it got me straight in the chest. I'm quite fortunate it didn't hit me in the face, it could have been worse," Switkowski told this week. 


"I thought I was a small chance, and I know Joe likes to wind up for a big kick so that gave me a bit of extra time to get there. 

"That was just my time to go, and when it was time for other guys they dug in, and you could feel the energy that came through the crowd. 

"That's why we buy into our trademark so much, because it's the stuff that can really turn games."

Fremantle has reintroduced its weekly trademark player award this season, with the players voting each week on the teammate they believe best represented the team's tightly held trademark. 

Switkowski said it was a valued award internally that kept the group grounded, with key forward Josh Treacy and captain Alex Pearce among the players whose efforts were highlighted this week.

"We watch plenty of vision of those trademark acts and open the floor up to have some discussion about what guys saw during the game and how it made them feel," Switkowski said. 

Sam Switkowski snaps a goal during Fremantle's clash against Brisbane in round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"That can be really powerful, and then over the course of the year someone will be the trademark player each week, and we make sure we value that and reward it. 

"A few that come to mind were Josh Treacy's efforts to bring the ball to ground when he couldn't mark it, and his tackle as well. 

"The biggest one to note were our skipper Alex Pearce's efforts putting his body on the line going back with the flight, which were there all day."

Switkowski conceded the Dockers' pressure game was inconsistent last year after it had built into a cornerstone of the gameplan in 2022.

Alex Pearce is tackled by Zac Bailey during Fremantle's clash against Brisbane in round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

It would be a focus this year, however, to rediscover that weekly commitment to forcing turnovers in the front half, with Longmuir also confident the Dockers could make it a foundation of their game in 2024.   

"We saw it last year … and the last six games of last year were really consistent in that aspect," the coach said.  

"When we won four in a row in the middle of the year, we were really consistent in all those phases of the game. It looked very similar to the weekend, so yeah, positive on the fact that we can be more consistent."

On the role Switkowski can play in the Dockers' pressure game, Longmuir said the forward line leader, alongside veteran forward Michael Walters, was "all effort" and would again be "super important" to the team both with and without the ball.