FREMANTLE coach Ross Lyon has hinted that he would like big man Zac Clarke to spend more time in the ruck to unburden veteran Aaron Sandilands. 
Clarke has turned into a useful presence up forward for Fremantle this season. He kicked three goals against both West Coast and Port Adelaide in consecutive weeks and although he kicked just two behinds against the Western Bulldogs last Sunday he pulled down seven marks in a strong performance.
But Clarke has averaged just shy of 11 hit-outs in seven matches this year playing limited time in the ruck as three-time All Australian Sandilands has dominated the stoppages leading the AFL in hit-outs with more than 40 per game, and total hit-outs to advantage.
Lyon suggested that Clarke would likely spend more time in the ruck in order to keep the 31-year-old Sandilands fresh and to use his 211cm, 120kg frame up forward.
"It's going to occur at times and we'd like to shift it that way," Lyon said.
"I couldn't tell you what the exact percentages are, I probably should know, but Zac's really developing as a forward. He did a lot of damage as a forward on the weekend and he did a lot of damage the previous two weeks as a forward.
"So he's grown, his mobility, he's elite. We know he's really capable in the ruck and he's building towards his best form in there as well.
"At some point it's going to keep shifting and it'll help Aaron, and Aaron's a real weapon forward. They're starting to work together really well."
Lyon said both his ruckmen needed to remain vigilant with Jack Hannath and Jon Griffin both playing well in the WAFL.
Fremantle midfielder Michael Barlow believes Clarke has taken another step up this season in terms of his consistency.
"Clarkey is a player we've seen develop an amazing amount over the past few years but this year I think the consistency in performance has been really good," Barlow said.
"That's all we ask from him. We don't expect him to go out and kick four goals a week and take 10 marks. We just expect him to compete and there are certain areas that he's struggled with a little bit in the past, going back last year and the year before, to string week after week.
"But this year, of (his seven) games I think he can really tick off his effort for the majority of those (seven)."