Nat Fyfe tackles Matt Rowell during the R15 match between Fremantle and Gold Coast at Optus Stadium on June 23, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

NAT FYFE is being praised as the ultimate team man with his unexpected tagging role set to play a key role in Fremantle's bid to lock down a top-four berth.

A few years ago it would have been unthinkable for Fyfe - a two-time Brownlow medallist - to fulfil a shutdown role.

But that's exactly what the 32-year-old did in last week's one-point win over Sydney, with Fyfe curtailing the influence of Brownlow medal fancy Isaac Heeney at the stoppages.

Although Fyfe's role wasn't a hard tag for the entire game, his efforts still played a key role in limiting Heeney to a season-low 20 disposals and no goals.

Fyfe could reprise the role in Saturday night's clash with Richmond, where a possible match-up with Tim Taranto awaits.

Fremantle forward Bailey Banfield praised Fyfe's team-first attitude.


"It's not a question of how can he get involved and how can he get his touches," Banfield said.

"It's been about, 'How do I make this midfield better, how do I contribute?'

"A lot of the time it's his big body who wins the first possession and then he's able to take a tackler or draw two or three and then release somebody else.

"It looks like they (the receiver) are out in space and doing all the good things, but they're not able to get there without Fyfe's contribution and his strength and what he brings to the game."

Fyfe's form has been up and down this season, leading some critics to suggest Fremantle would be better served without him in the team.

But his new role could be the reinvigoration he needs to play a key role in Fremantle's flag bid.

The win over Sydney not only rocketed the Dockers into third spot, but it also announced them as a serious premiership contender.

"Obviously top four is our goal and if you win some of those games (like against Sydney), it goes a long way to helping you achieve that, and you get your double chance and a home final," Banfield said.

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

Richmond (2-13) sits a lowly 17th on the ladder and will be without star veteran Dusty Martin (back).

Fremantle has been boosted by the return of Brennan Cox and Michael Walters from hamstring injuries.

Banfield has been Fremantle's Mr Fix-it this year with his regular forward craft and occasional stints on the wing complemented with some other unexpected roles.

"It wasn't on my bingo card at the start of the year, but in round one I found myself at half back for a period," said Banfield, who has kicked a career-high 18 goals so far this season.