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Who will stop Lachie? Dockers weigh up options

Danger fires back at Cornes, star Pie relives his torp Nat Edwards with all the latest footy news

FREMANTLE has moved away from tagging but Lachie Neale's return to Perth could see coach Ross Lyon send a shutdown specialist to the star Brisbane midfielder, half-back Connor Blakely says.

After his bombshell trade request last year, Neale looms as a dangerman in his first clash against his former club.

The two-time Doig medallist has collected the most disposals in the AFL this season (305) and is averaging slightly more clearances (eight after 7.1 last season) and inside 50s (3.6 from 3.5) than last year.

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Neale is second-favourite for the Brownlow Medal behind Carlton superstar Patrick Cripps, and Blakely warned the Dockers needed to keep a close eye on their prolific ex-teammate.

"(Tagging) wouldn't be something that would be out of the question," Blakely said.

"He's always been a really high possession-getter at our club. He's someone that deserves all the praise he's been getting.

"He's a really smart and good inside midfielder. He's definitely someone we've got to look out for this weekend, there's no doubt about that.

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"It's not only Lachie. There's guys like Dayne Zorko and (Hugh) McCluggage is playing some good footy as well.

"It's definitely going to be a holistic point-of-view of trying to shut down all of them, because that's where they got hold of us last time we played them as well." 

Brisbane thrashed Fremantle by 55 points at Optus Stadium in round 15 last year, and will be brimming with confidence after a one-point win over Adelaide.

The Lions are right in the finals hunt at 6-3, while the Dockers desperately need to arrest a three-game losing skid.

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Lyon's men have tumbled from second to ninth and are precariously placed at 4-5 after scoring just 53 points from 56 inside 50s in a frustrating seven-point loss to Essendon.

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"There were definitely a couple of times on the weekend when we butchered a few opportunities and that came (back) to bite us," Blakely said.

"I think we get ample opportunity to work on that during training, so that's certainly something we might implement a bit more at training this week.

"But it's certainly no easy fix. It's like anything, the more repetition that you have of it (goalkicking) the more you'll improve.

"I know in the past lots of greats like Jason Dunstall have spoken about how they used to do 200 (shots).

"(Brendan) Fevola used to do like 1000 kicks per week. 

"If you are a key forward or a forward and that's your craft, then that's something you should continue to work at."

 

From a personal perspective, Blakely, who was among Freo's best with 20 touches in defence, pulled up well from his first AFL match since round 13 last year following long-term knee and hamstring problems.

"It's been a while. I was stoked to be out there, and to get through injury-free I'm really happy with that," he said.

"The speed of the game and how hard the bodies hit, that was something I'd almost forgotten over the last nine months or so."