CLUB champion Luke Ryan and second-year forward Liam Henry have emerged as early standouts in a Fremantle pre-season that has retained a heavy focus on skills under second-year coach Justin Longmuir. 

Ryan, who has made an early return to pre-season, and Henry have led the Dockers' running trials, with the coach thrilled with the condition of his entire group after the off-season break. 

WHO SMASHED IT? Our say on your club's draft performance

The physical progress of Henry has been obvious in the first fortnight of training, with the forward adding size and definition to his upper body and legs after arriving as a slightly built draftee. 

07:07 Mins
Published on

The Wash-Up: Young Docker set for big 2021, Blakely's big task

Nathan Schmook and Nat Edwards recap Fremantle's trade period and look ahead to the NAB AFL Draft and season 2021

Published on

Longmuir said the return of Ryan had been expected after the defender lifted his standards in an outstanding 2020 season that saw him win his first club champion award. 

"Luke Ryan and Liam Henry have returned in great nick in leading the running," Longmuir said on Wednesday. 

"But I think all of them have not only returned in good nick but improved on where they left the footy club last year … as a coach I'm really pleased.

2020'S BIGGEST STORIES COUNTDOWN Check out Nathan Schmook's 50-41 here
2020'S BIGGEST STORIES COUNTDOWN Check out Nathan Schmook's 40-31 here

"Luke made massive inroads on the field last year, but I feel like his biggest improvement came off the field and his attention to detail and ability to prepare himself week in, week out was fantastic. 

"From what I've seen this year, that hasn't changed."

Best and fairest winner Luke Ryan has impressed early in pre-season training. Picture: fremantlefc.com.au

Longmuir arrived ahead of the 2020 season with a focus on improving the Dockers' skills and made significant inroads, implementing a game plan that led to a massive improvement in kicking efficiency. 

He said the new-look coaching and strength and conditioning teams were working to implement a 2021 program high on skill development. 

"We can't do the same as last year and hope for more improvement," the coach said. 

"So the coaches have been hard at work trying to plan new training drills and trying to challenge our players in different ways. So far, so good.

"We're trying to get all our fitness work in our skills program, as much as we can."

Longmuir said his second pre-season as coach had felt less daunting and the group had been able to hit the ground running. 

EVERY PICK, EVERY PLAYER Check out who you just drafted

Key forward Matt Taberner has made a low-key early return, training away from the main group on Wednesday and marking only with his left hand. 

Draftees Heath Chapman, Joel Western and Josh Treacy joined training for the first time, with Nathan O'Driscoll recovering from a shoulder injury and Brandon Walker spending the session on a stationary bike. 

No.54 draft pick Joel Western joined Dockers training on Wednesday for the first time. Picture: fremantlefc.com.au

Midfielder Darcy Tucker, who suffered a serious hamstring injury in July, continued to train away from the main group and is expected to join full training in late January. 

Defender Taylin Duman, who is nursing a wrist injury, will join the main group after Christmas. He was able to mark with one hand and do some kicking on Wednesday. 

Spotlight on your club in ON DEMAND

Join the expert team from AFL.com.au on The Wash-Up as they analyse every club's Trade Period and look ahead to season 2021

Watch Now

Longmuir said forward Sam Sturt is expected to resume running after Christmas after recently undergoing follow-up surgery on his ankle injury.  

Wingman Brett Bewley completed a long running session away from the main group on Wednesday. 

Longmuir said captain Nat Fyfe was completing his off-season training program in Western Australia's south-west and hosed down concerns about the star midfielder's elbow infection. 

TRADE PERIOD VERDICT We rank your club from worst to best

"It was nothing, I think he had an infection or something along those lines (and) it blew up for a day or two," he said.

"He's doing a really solid training block in Margaret River somewhere and he'll be right to go come pre-season."

Players in their fifth year upward return to training from January 6.