Luke Ryan in action during the R3 match between Fremantle and Adelaide at Optus Stadium on March 29, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

PRESSURING Port Adelaide's star-studded midfield and preventing one-on-one contests in attack shape as keys to Fremantle upsetting an in-form Port Adelaide on Saturday night, according to gun Dockers defender Luke Ryan. 

The Power midfield is in scintillating form and will be delivering inside 50 to a trio of tall forwards as the Dockers confront Charlie Dixon, Todd Marshall and Mitch Georgiades with an undermanned but so far very impressive backline. 

With key defender Alex Pearce and the versatile Ryan in great form, and fellow tall Josh Draper making a strong impression in his first three AFL games, Ryan said the backline would again focus on supporting each other to prevent as many one-on-one contests as possible at Adelaide Oval. 

"They've got big Charlie down there, Georgiades has come back, and he's a really good player when he's up and going … so we're going to have our hands full, but we're looking forward to the challenge," Ryan told

"I'm sure Drapes will do a really good job on their keys, no matter who it is, and we've just got to get around and support each other. 

"I think as a backline we're doing really well. We're working together, we're trying not to allow any one-on-ones, and we're a really connected group.

Luke Ryan and Brandon Walker take on Charlie Curnow during the R4 match between Fremantle and Carlton at Adelaide Oval on April 6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"It's a credit to the forwards and the mids who are putting a lot of pressure on the ball and making our job a lot easier."

Ryan has again drawn on his ability this season to switch between tall and small opponents and was wary of the Power's ground-level fleet, who did most of the damage against Essendon in Gather Round. 

He had full faith in Draper to get the job done on one of Port's tall forwards while also using his attacking assets when the Dockers win possession. 

"He's composed with the ball and he's very calm. He's a smart kid and he just looks to take the game on and drive and use his speed," Ryan said.

"He sees the game really well and he's surprised me with how much he's improved over the last year, so hopefully he keeps improving and he's going to be a good player for us for a very long time."

Josh Draper warms up ahead of the R3 match between Fremantle and Adelaide at Optus Stadium on March 29, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

While Ryan has been a crucial defensive asset again this season with his ability to roll off opponents and support teammates in the air, his attacking game has also improved after an excellent 2023 that saw him named in the extended All-Australian squad.  

He has remained the Dockers' leading rebound option from defence, but the 28-year-old has tried to work more attacking kicks into his game while maintaining his high efficiency (91.4 per cent). 

A notable example was a spearing kick-in down the middle of the ground against Adelaide in round three that hit Nat Fyfe and allowed the Dockers to transition quickly, resulting in an early goal to Michael Walters. 

"[The coaches] have been really good in telling me to back my kicking and go for my kicks and really take the game on," Ryan said.

"And then I've also tried to and use my hands more and use the numbers around me.

"I'm trying not to bomb the ball out of D50 when I'm under pressure and trying to look low, look for a little short kick or use my hands. And then if the option's on in the corridor, I'm going to go for it.

"It's the right time to make those decisions, but I've just got the license to back myself in."