Hawthorn defender Josh Gibson has warned that Fremantle’s attack is much more potent than it’s recent AFL output suggests.
The first-time All-Australian says he and his fellow backmen will have their hands full on Friday night in the Domain Stadium preliminary final.
Fremantle have only kicked more than 100 points in a game once since round eight.
They managed just 10 goals in the qualifying final win over Sydney, with small forwards Michael Walters and Hayden Ballantyne crucially kicking three apiece.
But Gibson said Dockers captain Matthew Pavlich and Chris Mayne, who had quiet games against the Swans, remained significant threats.
“If you focus too much on them (Walters and Ballantyne), then you’re going to miss out on blokes like Pavlich and Mayne – I think he’s No.1 for tackles in the side,” Gibson said.
“So he puts on tremendous forward line pressure and can kick goals.
“We all know what a champion Pav is, so you have to respect their whole forward mix.”
In-form defender Ben Stratton will go to either Ballantyne or Walters after keeping Adelaide star Eddie Betts scoreless a week ago, but Gibson said he would need help.
“They did bob up for a lot of goals and set up a lot of plays,” Gibson said of the Dockers pair.
“Strats did a really good job on Betts, so he’d really love (to play on) one of them.
“But we’ll need to help wherever we can, because it’s hard for one guy to cover one of them for the whole night.”
Gibson was among 11 players to receive their first All-Australian blazers at Tuesday night’s function.
Team-mates Sam Mitchell (third selection) and Cyril Rioli (second) also made the game’s top 22 for the season.
Mitchell said Gibson’s selection was a great reward for consistency.
“He’s been stiff a couple of times – he’s probably been `the next chosen’ on at least two other years,” he said.
“I’m really happy that `Gib’ made it.
“He probably plays a slightly-unique role in that he’s not really a tall defender, he’s not really a rebounding small defender either.
“When you’re in that mould, it makes it a bit more difficult to compare him maybe to other guys.”
Fellow Hawk Jordan Lewis added that this season had been the latest in a string of consistent years for Gibson.
“It’s just recognition for all the work he’s put in,” Lewis said.
“He’s one of our most competitive people on the track and on game day as well, so it’s good to see guys like that get recognition for another outstanding year.”