Justin Longmuir celebrates with Fremantle players after their win over Richmond at the MCG in round eight, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

FREMANTLE'S charge into the top four should convince the club to make the unique move of re-contracting its coach for the second time in a season as Justin Longmuir delivers on his one-year extension and steers the Dockers into premiership contention. 

Longmuir, who was out of contract at the end of this season, signed a one-year deal for 2025 on the eve of round one that has been more than justified by the Dockers' rise to third on the ladder with nine wins and a draw from 15 games. 

It was effectively a fresh two-year contract that allowed the coach to re-work his 2024 agreement and add more security, but it came amid expectations that the Dockers would return to the finals stage.

That appears well on track now after the team's credibility-building win against ladder leader Sydney, with the Dockers travelling to the SCG with the youngest team of the round and producing one of the performances of the season.  

Extending Longmuir's contract for the second time in six months is a rare situation, but giving the coach, players and a well-performed team of assistants certainty beyond next season makes sense at some stage in the run to finals. 

Among the Dockers' achievements under Longmuir this season, they have become one of the most organised and selfless teams in the AFL, as shown by dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe's willingness to move into a run-with role against the Swans. 

Nat Fyfe in action during the R16 match between Fremantle and Sydney at the SCG on June 29, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

While Caleb Serong has elevated himself to the No.1 clearance winner in the League, the midfield has proven adaptable to taggers as roles shift among Andrew Brayshaw, Hayden Young and Serong to get the best result for the team. 

Forward-ruck Luke Jackson has enjoyed his best individual games as the No.1 ruckman, but he has committed to growing as a third tall forward and competing in the role that helps the Dockers most. 

And defender Jordan Clark stepped back from his usual attacking role for periods against the Swans to soak up a tag and allow others, including Corey Wagner and Brandon Walker, to give the Dockers bounce out of the back half. 

It all points to a culture where ego is parked and preparation is prioritised. 

"Our No.1 goal as a team is to be the most organised team in the comp, and the most prepared team in the comp," Longmuir said during a pre-season interview with AFL.com.au

Then there is the ability for recruits and young players to flourish under the Dockers' system, with no better examples than Jeremy Sharp and Josh Draper, and the more recent improvement in Matt Johnson. 

Sharp has been one of the recruits of the season after the Dockers targeted him as a pre-season selection and pounced once the elite runner was delisted by Gold Coast. 


The 22-year-old has gone from the scrapheap to be one of the competition's best wingmen. 

Draper, meanwhile, represents the ability for young players to step into roles at short notice and deliver after making his debut in round two following injuries to Brennan Cox and Oscar McDonald. 

Playing his 13th career game against the Swans, it is possible the Dockers would not have secured the brilliant win without the 20-year-old's outstanding defensive work and crucial spoils in the final minutes at the SCG. 

Joel Amartey and Josh Draper compete for the ball during the R16 match between Sydney and Fremantle at the SCG on June 29, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Then there is Johnson, who has worked through some shaky moments with his decision-making to become an important rotation in the midfield, winning 21 disposals and six clearances against the Swans and sticking with his coaches' advice to take on tacklers. 

While there are other highlights, including Sam Sturt's re-emergence in the forward line, the case can be made that almost all players on the Dockers' list, outside a small handful and those who have battled extended injuries, have improved this year. 

Continuity and form among the forwards has meant a game style that drew brief criticism is now holding up with slight tweaks as players move forward more decisively and give Jye Amiss, Josh Treacy and Jackson clean opportunities. 

"He's coaching really well and has that connection with our players and really all the coaching staff as well," Amiss told AFL.com.au this week when asked how Longmuir was leading. 

Justin Longmuir addresses his players during Fremantle's clash against the Western Bulldogs in round 14, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"We feel like we're really connected players to the coaching group and it's really exciting. Our reviews are very thorough, and we know what we want to improve on and what we did well.

"Then we're really good at anchoring and moving on to the next week. That's going to hold us in good stead for this year."

Certainty for a senior coach often means the same for assistants, with the Dockers thriving with a group that includes Jaymie Graham (forwards), Matthew Boyd (backline), Joel Corey (midfield) and Harry Garland (stoppages).

It also means certainty for potential recruits as the Dockers prepare for an off-season that will see them armed with three first-round draft picks that could be used partly to land an established star. 

With the strong position the Dockers and Longmuir now find themselves in, there appears little risk in an official endorsement of the coach beyond 2025.