Josh Treacy looks on during a Fremantle pre-season training session in February 2024. Picture: Fremantle FC

RAPIDLY emerging Fremantle key forward Josh Treacy had a focus to "take down the big dog" of the Dockers' backline during the pre-season as a way to accelerate his own development, with the challenge of constantly lining up on Alex Pearce paying off so far in 2024.  

Treacy has been the crucial cog in Fremantle's forward line this season, kicking a team-high 14 goals and leading the Dockers for contested marks (14) and marks inside 50 (13), with his aerial presence a highlight against the Western Bulldogs in round seven. 

The 21-year-old, who was among the standouts of the Dockers' summer, used his pre-season battles with Pearce to soak up advice from the captain and take his game to a new level, helping secure a place in the forward line for round one.

"It was something I spoke to the coaches about and spoke to Alex about five or six weeks before we got into all the intraclubs and those sorts of things," Treacy told

"It was like 'right, I just want to play on you and take down the big dog of the backline', and I figured it was going to be the best thing for my footy going forward and the best way to learn.

"There was a good patch there for a month where we played on each other every game and it was really good to learn and help each other. 

Josh Treacy in action during a Fremantle training session in February 2024. Picture: Fremantle FC

"He helped me more than I probably helped him, but just to be able to learn off someone like that and give tips on what I could do to make it hard for him and vice versa, it was really good."

The risk of taking on Pearce and potentially being shown up when round one spots were on the line was all part of the challenge for the 195cm Treacy, who wanted to put himself out there and work through some of the tougher days he endured on the track. 

Underlining the difficulty of the match-up, Pearce has gone on to start the season as one of the AFL's in-form key defenders and again played a crucial role against the Bulldogs last Saturday night. 

Alex Pearce spoils Aaron Naughton during the R7 match between Fremantle and Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on April 27, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Treacy's push to challenge the skipper came after some "lightbulb moments" earlier in the off-season that helped prepare the former rookie physically and mentally for his fourth year in the AFL. 

Understanding the professionalism required at the top level and finding out what works for him and sticking to it, rather than trying to emulate others, has been crucial. 

"I feel like I've been able to put a line through a lot of things and then also add a lot of things, so it certainly has been a few lightbulb moments and a few good self-reflection moments," Treacy said. 

"Things as simple as diet, recovery, extra activities outside of the club, whether that be Pilates, boxing … a whole range of things.

"Then a lot of me time stuff, focusing on me and controlling what I control to help me become the best player I can be."

As a result, Treacy helped drive an improved gym culture at Fremantle that resulted in more than 100 personal best results across the squad.

He has also continued to invest in his mental preparation, spending time with club psychologist Neil McLean weekly as part of his build-up to matches, which he can often enter with "a lot of self-doubt". 


"I can focus on things that just aren't necessary and aren't going to help, but it's a space I've worked a lot in," Treacy said.

"If I can stick to what I can control and focus in on the moment and do my job, it can help put me in a really good position to play my role [on] game day.

"I get in and see Neil weekly, and a lot of the time it isn't even anything that I need to get off my chest. We speak a lot of sport outside of footy, but just little things that he's been able to bring to my game has certainly helped me go a long way."

Performances like last Saturday night against the Western Bulldogs, which saw Treacy take five contested marks (an AFL-high for the round), instil more confidence and give the forward "a bit more trust in myself that I can play at the level". 

With the looming return from concussion of sidekick Jye Amiss, his ability to use his improved marking both up the ground and inside 50 shapes as crucial in the 4-3 Dockers' prospects this season. 

"It (contested marking) is a craft that I've put a lot of time into and will continue to because I feel like I can take it to another level," Treacy said. 

Josh Treacy flies for a mark during the R7 match between Fremantle and Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on April 27, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"'JG' (Jaymie Graham) our forwards coaches has been a really big help with that, as well as the backs and the other forwards. 

"I understand they're not going to stick every week, but the more contests I can get to and the more opportunities I give myself, I feel like the more they're going to stick."