SKIPPER Nat Fyfe hopes Fremantle players' efforts to getting to know each other better "creates a tangible advantage" and helps lift the Dockers back into finals contention after three years in the wilderness.
Freo players haven't shied away from top-eight talk this pre-season, buoyed by the NAB AFL Trade Period additions of experienced recruits Jesse Hogan, Rory Lobb, Travis Colyer and Reece Conca.
There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel following a rocky rebuild, which has seen 32 players join the squad in the past three years.
Only Carlton (35) and the Suns (34) have welcomed more new faces, and the Dockers have invested in team bonding this summer, even travelling across the country to the Gold Coast for a pre-Christmas camp in a bid to form stronger relationships.
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"Hopefully that relationship (building) creates a tangible advantage when we go out and play together," Fyfe said.
"We've got guys all over the country that have represented other teams and have decided to come back and play for Fremantle, which is a great thing, and we've got another 60 odd days to get ready for round one and have us all jelling together.
"Yes, (finals are) always on the agenda.
"I'm an eternal optimist, but you've got no measuring stick at this stage of the pre-season.
"You do all the hard work, you implement the game plan, you might have a session like today where you move the ball really well and everyone feels great about themselves, and you'll think that it'll be hard to get beaten.
"But until we come up against an opposition side, we won't really know where we're sitting in the pecking order, but always optimistic."
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The Dockers were put through their paces for nearly three hours as temperatures hovered around 30 degrees at Cockburn on Monday, finishing the session with full-ground match simulation.
The 15-a-side work appeared to be a mainly 'probables v possibles' hitout, staged over 10-minute halves.
Former Richmond utility Reece Conca slotted into an apparent first-choice defensive unit and offered plenty of rebound alongside Luke Ryan and Nathan Wilson, with Alex Pearce and Griffin Logue manning key posts.
Matt Taberner worked hard up the ground and was strong in the air in a forward setup featuring Rory Lobb, Hayden Ballantyne, Brandon Matera and Cam McCarthy.
On the sidelines, boom recruit Hogan continued individual skills, running and repeat-effort work in his comeback from a navicular stress fracture.
"Jesse's going good. He's started being drip-fed into drills in the last couple of days and he will look to be in full training in the coming weeks," Fyfe said.
Michael Walters (knee), David Mundy, Shane Kersten, draftee Sam Sturt, Harley Bennell and Darcy Tucker (foot) were others on modified duties, while veteran ruckman Aaron Sandilands was unsighted late in the session.
Senior coach Ross Lyon oversaw the match simulation, at one point stopping the action to position players from a kick-in and call for "more leadership" from those on the field.
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Fyfe, sporting a sleeve bandage on his right arm to protect an inflamed bursa, slammed a behind post in frustration shortly after when Brennan Cox, playing in attack for the 'possibles', found space behind the defence.
Cox marked uncontested next to the goalsquare, and Fyfe took time to instruct the backmen where the breakdown occurred.
For the 'possibles', mature draftee Brett Bewley held his own in a tussle with Bradley Hill on a wing, and continues to push his case for an early-season debut.
Bailey Banfield used the ball well in blustery conditions and Swan Districts product Tobe Watson looked anything but out of place across half-back.