Nat Fyfe handpasses during the round seven match between Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium, April 27, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

FREMANTLE coach Justin Longmuir can't help but feel a bit miffed that he's still regarded as a defensive coach, saying analysts should look closer at his team's handball stats.

Analysts widely panned the Dockers' ball movement last year, saying the stagnant nature of their forays forward was a big reason behind the club's slide down to 14th spot.

Critics were again out in force following Fremantle's shock 37-point loss to West Coast in round six.

The Dockers rebounded last week with a 24-point win over the Bulldogs, with their return of 14.11 (95) marking their second-highest score of the season.

Fremantle's handball-happy game style against the Bulldogs that led to more attacking opportunities was a big talking point after the match.

Patrick Voss handballs during the round seven match between Fremantle and Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium, April 27, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

It left Longmuir feeling bemused, given that his coaching philosophy has largely revolved around using handballs as a weapon for years now.

It even led to him quipping "because I'm such a dour, defensive coach", when explaining a potential reason why critics haven't looked in-depth at the handball stats.

Fremantle led the league in handballs in 2022 and were ranked fourth last season.

This year, the Dockers sit second for handballs at an average of 160 per match, behind only Greater Western Sydney (162.3).


"I'm not sure how you can analyse our game and leave out the fact we're a high handball team," Longmuir said on Thursday.

"I don't want to become defensive in terms of my reactions to those types of questions, but we've been a high handball team for a long period of time, and for some reason that gets left out of the analysis of our game.

"I'm not sure how that works."

Two-time Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe exemplifies Fremantle's willingness to open up the game through handballs.

Out of Fyfe's 37 disposals against the Bulldogs, 25 were handballs.


Caleb Serong (27 handballs, 10 kicks) was also on the handball bandwagon.

Fyfe looked a spent force over the past few years as injuries continued to ravage his battered body, but the 32-year-old has rediscovered his mojo this year, wreaking havoc both at the stoppages and around the ground.

"His game and process on the weekend looked more decisive and natural," Longmuir said.

"He played with less worry in some sense. He backed himself and trusted his game and took the game on.

"He had 26 possessions post-clearance on the weekend, so that shows he ran in smart spots to receive and win the ball post-clearance.

"He's evolving his game. That's what stars do, they always look to get better and evolve."

Longmuir indicated spearhead Jye Amiss (concussion) and goalsneak Sam Switkowski (concussion) would return against Richmond at the MCG on Sunday if they both pull up well from Thursday's training session.