Luke Jackson kicks a goal during Fremantle's clash against North Melbourne in round two, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

FREMANTLE star Luke Jackson is confident he can help boost the Dockers' scoring with a return to the forward line in Saturday night's Derby as the team prepares to unleash its powerful ruck combination for the first time this season. 

The Dockers have been the best defensive team in 2024 but have struggled to capitalise on scoring opportunities, kicking nine goals in each of their past three games, including narrow back-to-back defeats against Port Adelaide and Carlton.

Saturday night will mark the first opportunity since round 18 last season that coach Justin Longmuir has been able to deploy both Sean Darcy and Jackson in the same team alongside young key forwards Jye Amiss and Josh Treacy. 

Jackson said he was ready to help the club's emerging forward targets as another tall option while also restarting his dangerous ruck partnership with Darcy, who will be eased back to an extent after recovering from a knee injury. 

"When I go forward it can really help out guys like Jye and 'JT', and that can free them up a little bit more, so hopefully I can do that and we can get the ball in there and score a little bit more," Jackson told

"Then building that connection with Sean will be massive for us, so I'm looking forward to that. 

Luke Jackson ad Sean Darcy during Fremantle's official team photo day on January 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"He's been in all the team meetings and midfield meetings, but you can only do that when you're training and playing to be honest, so when he's back playing we'll really be able to see where we're at." 

Jackson said he was likely to split the ruck load with Darcy for the first few weeks while his sidekick gained match conditioning before making adjustments, with Longmuir also indicating this week that Darcy would rotate forward after a limited preparation. 

The coach was focused on making more of opportunities against West Coast after a dominant second quarter against Port Adelaide that included significant wins in centre clearance (4-0), inside 50s (21-10), and contested ball (40-32) netted just three goals. 

"To go out there against Port at home and think you're going to kick 120 points is a bit unrealistic, but we needed to get to 70-80, and that's what you need to get to against good teams away from home," the coach said. 

Luke Jackson in action during Fremantle's clash against Port Adelaide in round five, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"I felt like we created enough opportunities to be able to do that, we just didn't capitalise on some of those opportunities. 

"I feel like we’re doing a lot right, we just need to show a bit more composure to be able to finish our work off." 

An added benefit of Darcy's return is the ability for much-improved forward Treacy to spend entire games forward, rather than rotating in the ruck as he has done this season. 

There is also the wildcard option of eventually using Jackson as a midfielder, which the Dockers tried within multiple games last season, including a mid-season win against Melbourne at the MCG. 

"I don't mind playing in the midfield, but our mids are going pretty well at the moment, so we'll see what 'JL' thinks," Jackson said. 

"They've all had massive pre-seasons, and you can see how hard they work and the connection they have, so it's no surprise they're going so well." 

Luke Jackson kicks the ball during Walyalup's clash against Narrm in round 11, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Jackson said he was feeling good physically, despite the responsibility of carrying the ruck through the opening five games, with the 22-year-old returning from an extended road trip in Adelaide buoyed by his 3-2 team's prospects. 

The ruck/forward is preparing to play in his third Derby, having come agonisingly close to winning the Glendinning-Allan Medal as best afield when the team's last met, tying with Lachie Schultz but then losing on a countback. 

In that clash, Jackson dominated as a ruckman, finishing with 19 disposals, 26 hitouts and six clearances, with the West Australian excited for Saturday night's clash.  

"Definitely, I mean derbies are one of the biggest games obviously and they're a bit more fiery because they're two WA teams, so it should be a good game and I'm looking forward to it," he said.