Matt Taberner celebrates a goal during round two, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

FREMANTLE forward Matt Taberner knows what it feels like to be on the wrong side when injury forces selection changes, so the experienced Docker is making the most of his early season games in an undefeated team. 

After starting the season out of the 23 when Fremantle opted for key defender Brennan Cox in attack in round one, injuries have created room for Taberner to play as the third tall forward alongside Jye Amiss and Josh Treacy in the past fortnight. 

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It's an opportunity the 30-year-old has taken, adapting to a more selfless role and still contributing on the scoreboard with two goals in each win against North Melbourne and Adelaide, including an important set shot in the run home against the Crows. 

After a serious back injury that required surgery last year and a mix of back and hamstring issues in 2022, Taberner said he was back enjoying his football and making the most of his chances.


"I definitely had a positive outlook coming in and I know that we've got plenty of options and it's going to be tight for spots with Sean Darcy still to come back in," Taberner told

"But opportunities are going to present, and I think any given year you're going to use probably three quarters, if not more, of your list. 

"There's always injuries and I'm usually on that end having an injury. But round two I got an opportunity and I just want to perform for the team."


With young duo Amiss and Treacy entering the season as the Dockers' preferred tall pairing and Luke Jackson earmarked to spend significant time as a third marking option while supporting Darcy in the ruck, Taberner became a depth option alongside pre-season recruit Pat Voss. 

He came into the team, however, with a clear understanding of his role and has enjoyed doing his job in back-to-back wins for the second-placed Dockers. 

"They (Amiss and Treacy) are going great in their own right, but if I can take a big defender and nullify him to free up another guy, that's something I'm willing to do," Taberner said. 

"I think we're all pretty clear on our roles and they bring so much energy and come in wanting to improve, so they're really driving me as well with the impact they're having.

Jye Amiss celebrates after scoring a goal during the match between Fremantle and Adelaide at Optus Stadium in round three, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"You definitely want to be in the team and try to do your part to stay in the team, so I'm just enjoying it and I feel good. 

"Josh competes in the air and he's just as good on the ground and with his follow up, and Jye is a very dynamic deep forward who doesn't need a lot of the ball to make teams pay.

"I'm just trying to compete and bring the ball to ground and allow our small forwards into the game."

There is a clear path for Taberner to stay in the team if Fremantle returns to full availability in the key forward and ruck posts, with the Dockers keen to experiment more with Jackson as a big-bodied midfielder. 

If Taberner's form demands selection, Jackson could be released to split his time in more prominent midfield and support ruck roles, allowing Taberner to be the experienced tall forward who supports Amiss and Treacy.

Josh Treacy celebrates a goal with his Fremantle teammates during round two, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Physically, the 30-year-old said he was in a good place after back surgery last year, albeit still managing some tightness in the area. 

"I had a little bit of stiffness during the week, but that's something I sort of manage. It was a little bit of tightness, but I was confident I was always going to play," Taberner said.

"We just took precautions early in the week and I was just given that opportunity to rest for the six-day break and I felt pretty good once I got moving.

"With the injuries you never know, there's no guarantees that you're going to hold up, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts."