Hayden Young handballs during Walyalup's clash against Euro-Yroke in round 10, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

WALYALUP is ready to handle Collingwood's pressure on the Friday night stage, with midfielder Hayden Young declaring the team was more mature and mentally strong almost two years on from its semi-final clash with the Magpies.

The Dockers, who were overwhelmed by the Magpies' pressure in their 2022 clash at a packed MCG, sit ninth this season with a 6-4 record and a win on Friday night has the ability to shape their season and set up a finals charge.

Young was confident the team had grown significantly through recent experiences in tight, high-pressure games and was ready for whatever the Magpies delivered at Optus Stadium on Friday night.

"I think we've matured a lot in terms of the mental side of the game. Back then, that was a pretty big final, I was 21 years old, and we were a much younger team and hadn't played any big, high-pressure games," Young told AFL.com.au this week.

"We were a bit rattled by the occasion … but I think in that time we've matured as people and footballers, and we've been in closer games and experienced high-pressure situations.

"We've worked on our craft and we're better footballers than we were back then, but I just feel like we're better suited for a high-pressure game, which is a game that you're going to expect against Collingwood.


"I've always loved playing on the big stage and playing against the best opposition, and there's no better team to do it against than Collingwood on a Friday night. You want to be playing those high-pressure games come September, so you may as well get used to it and build some experience."

The Dockers have lost their past three clashes against Collingwood, including a 46-point defeat at the MCG last year, but they enter Friday night's clash in strong form, albeit with goalkicking accuracy issues.

Young said the Dockers had spoken about trusting themselves with the ball and being decisive, with their ability to access the corridor and run hard offensively emerging as a significant strength in recent weeks.

The next challenge is to convert their opportunities after kicking 9.18 against the Saints and 4.15 against the Swans.


"We're obviously well aware that we didn't make the most of it on the weekend, but we'd rather have that issue than not being able to create opportunities and not being able to score," Young said. 

"We've got some belief that our system is working.

"It's a strength of ours when we take the game on and access the corridor (and) that's something that we're going to be focusing on – being aggressive with ball in hand, taking the game on, and really trusting our decisions."

Young has been crucial to the Dockers' attacking ball movement in recent weeks, recording a game-high 12 score involvements against the Saints, eight against the Swans, and an equal game-high 11 against Richmond. 

Hayden Young and Nat Fyfe celebrate a goal with Bailey Banfield during the R7 match between Fremantle and Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on April 27, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

He ranks No.2 across the season for the key indicator at Fremantle (6.9) behind Andrew Brayshaw (7.0) and said he was enjoying the diversity of his midfield roles after joining the onball group full-time.

"There's been weeks where I have a match up that's well suited to me, and then there's other weeks where I'm told just to go and play midfield," Young said.

"So on the weekend (against the Saints) I didn't have a certain role or a defensive mindset, I was just told to go play.

"It's good to have a bit of versatility and different strings to my bow and, if I'm needed to, I can play a bit more of a defensive role.

"I'm still building my midfield craft, but I'm certainly feeling comfortable in there and learning a lot. I'm loving it, it's really fun."