Andrew Brayshaw in action during Fremantle's clash against the Western Bulldogs in round seven, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

FREMANTLE star Andrew Brayshaw has relished the return of Nat Fyfe to the midfield and taken the opportunity to shift into a more attacking onball role this season as the Dockers' engine room starts to fire. 

Brayshaw leads Fremantle for score involvements this season (6.6 a game) and had a massive 11 against the Western Bulldogs in Saturday night's win, while Fyfe played a vital inside role feeding the team's runners with 37 disposals. 

The Dockers' vice-captain, who also highlighted Hayden Young's impact as a midfield addition, said he had been able to tweak his own role this season to receive the ball on the outside of the contest more and draw on his attacking instincts. 

"'Fyfey' has come back in and has dominated inside the contest and that has allowed me to play potentially a bit more of an aggressive role going forward," Brayshaw said on Monday. 

"Then 'Youngy' has been playing more of a defensive-minded midfield role, either being accountable for someone at stoppage or being that last mid to leave the stoppage and having that defensive positioning.

"Both of those guys crack in really hard but then also have a really good defensive role from there, so blokes like myself, Caleb (Serong), Matt Johnson when he comes in, can be really aggressive and attacking when we can." 


With Fyfe and Young joining Brayshaw in the midfield, and Serong elevating himself again with 17 clearances against the Bulldogs, the Dockers have become the League's No.1 team for clearance differential (+7.9). 

Brayshaw said the mix of defensive and attacking midfielders, as well as the extra size of Fyfe and Young, had been important across a 4-3 start. 

On Fyfe's outstanding performance against the Bulldogs, which saw him amass more than 30 disposals for the first time since 2021, Brayshaw said he had sensed the former skipper was in for a big game early. 

"He's still one of the leaders of the club and he leads by his actions. He's always been super physical, really strong in the contest and really aggressive and I was just stoked to see him perform the way he did," Brayshaw said. 


"He works so hard on the training track and at the club, so to see him perform like that was a reward for effort.

"At half-time I might have seen that he'd had a fair bit of it, but the physical presence you could sort of just feel it. He was imposing himself on the contest and he had a presence about him definitely on the weekend."

The role of ruckman Sean Darcy was also highlighted, with the Dockers' big man controlling stoppages against Tim English with 38 hitouts and giving his team an 18-8 edge in taps to advantage. 

From there, the Dockers launched a high handball game that was noticeably more attacking, with Brayshaw pleased with the approach. 

"I think it happened just naturally a little bit. We've always been a relatively high handball team and we just try and take what the oppo give us," he said. 


"We thought we had a lot a lot of opportunities to shift them by hand and we just really want to try and make those handballs into dangerous looks.

"We don't want to be a team that's handballing back and we want to be aggressive with our handballs and get metres gained from that and get really dangerous looks from it. I thought it was exciting.

"That's the sort of brand we want to be playing; strong in the contest, composed with the ball in hand, really attacking and then executing in front of goal." 

The Dockers have an eight-day break before taking on Richmond at the MCG on Sunday, with Brayshaw welcoming the extended break after managing a niggle last week and training lightly. 

"There's a few sore boys, but we're cracking in as hard as we can. Recovery is my main focus at the moment … I think I'm almost over it," he said.