Alex Pearce poses for a photo during Fremantle's official team photo day on January 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

THE OUTSTANDING form of Fremantle key defender Alex Pearce has enhanced the captain's leadership, according to teammates, as all elements of the gun Docker's game come together in his second year in the role.

Pearce replaced champion Nat Fyfe as captain ahead of the 2023 season but was scrutinised as skipper as the Dockers slid from sixth to 14th and his own form tapered somewhat following an excellent 2022.

The 28-year-old has rebounded to produce All-Australian form in the Dockers' first five games, however, locking down the opposition's best key forwards and keeping his direct match-ups to a combined four goals across the past four games.  

In a field that has included Coleman medallists Charlie Curnow, Harry McKay and young star Nick Larkey, only Joe Daniher has been able to find a way past Pearce, kicking three goals and taking marks during his time on the defender in round one.

Alex Pearce leads the team through the banner during the match between Fremantle and Brisbane at Optus Stadium in round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Alex Pearce's 2024 match-ups


R1 v Brisbane

Joe Daniher





R2 v North Melbourne

Nick Larkey





R3 v Adelaide

Taylor Walker





R4 v Carlton

Harry McKay





R4 v Carlton

Charlie Curnow





R5 v Port Adelaide

Charlie Dixon





Midfielder Hayden Young said Pearce's captaincy had gone to another level alongside his form, with the team simply looking to its leader to dominate his opponent.

"He's been outstanding. I feel like last year he was sort of late into the role as skipper and then he obviously has a pretty big task each week with the best forward," said Hayden, who is part of the Dockers' leadership group under Pearce.

"But this year it feels like he's just been dominating his role and off the back of that he's been able to lead so much better.

"As a leader, we don't need anything more from him. We don't need him to speak more or give this motivational speech, we just need him to play his role and the best way he can lead is by dominating his role and dominating his opponent, which he's been doing.

"Off the back of him playing some really good footy, his leadership has gone to another level."


Opponents have been full of praise for Pearce this season, with Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley labelling him the best key defender in the game so far this season after his match-up on Charlie Dixon last Saturday night.

Dixon was able to take a late pack mark to kick an influential goal in the Power's three-point win, but Dixon himself conceded to broadcaster Fox Footy after the match that he had endured a difficult night.

"He dominated me all night, to be honest. He's a big strong man and I struggled on him all night and didn't know what to do," the powerful forward said.

"I loved the battle though, and you want to play against the best and he's one of the best."

Charlie Dixon and Alex Pearce compete for a mark during the match between Port Adelaide and Fremantle at Adelaide Oval in R5, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Hinkley later added: "Pearce has had a great year already, he's been unbelievable, he's been the best tall back in the game in the first five rounds … we respect the way he plays."

The contests Pearce has won this season have often been at critical times and in dangerous parts of the ground when the Dockers have been under pressure, with the skipper involved in more contested defensive one-on-one contests than any player this season.

While Greater Western Sydney backman Sam Taylor has set an unmatched standard with his perfect 16-0 record in contested defensive one-on-one contests, Pearce has been elite in losing just nine of 29.

Like Young, Fremantle ruckman Luke Jackson has been inspired by Pearce's leadership on the back of his outstanding performances, which have come in the wake of round one injuries to key defender's Brennan Cox and Oscar McDonald.

Their absence has meant 20-year-old Josh Draper has played as a key defender, with Luke Ryan used in a critical third tall role with a focus on supporting the key pair and preventing as many one-on-one contests as possible.

"'Moose' (Pearce) has been outstanding for us with his on-field performance, but his off-field stuff is just as good, so he's been an unreal leader for us and I'm proud having him as our captain," Jackson told