Fremantle midfielder Connor Blakely says his struggling AFL team are offended by suggestions they’re tanking, claiming it’s ridiculous to accuse the club of purposely trying to lose games.
The Dockers sit in last spot on the table with a 0-10 record, leading some pundits to speculate the team have already put the cue in the rack and may tank for the rest of the season in order to secure the No.1 draft pick.
But Blakely insists the players are doing their utmost to win, and says they’re desperate to taste victory in Saturday night’s bottom-of-the-table clash with Essendon at Domain Stadium.
“The talk of tanking is a bit ridiculous,” Blakely said on Wednesday.
“A lot of people at the Fremantle Footy Club are pretty offended by it. We’re so passionate about this game.
“Everyone’s so hungry to win at the club. We want to win really badly.”
Blakely is more desperate than most to win.
In six AFL games, Blakely is yet to experience a victory.
But the situation could change against a Bombers outfit still reeling from the supplements saga that resulted in 12 of their squad being suspended.
Saturday’s match is being billed as the wooden spoon showdown, and Blakely would love nothing more than to be singing the Fremantle theme song after the game.
“It’s really frustrating losing all the time,” Blakely said.
“I get pretty jealous seeing debutants win their first game.
“It’s something I haven’t experienced yet, and it will be really exciting when it eventually does come.”
The match will mark the return of former Fremantle tagger Ryan Crowley to Perth.
Crowley was axed by the Dockers at the end of last season after serving a 12-month doping ban, but the Bombers threw him a lifeline as part of their top-up quota.
“Crowls is a really good guy and a lot of the boys still catch up with him on a regular basis,” Blakely said.
“But on the weekend, he’s just another player.
“Once you cross that line, you don’t really read into that – mates goes out the window a little bit.”
Blakely, who was snared with pick No.34 in the 2014 national draft, has benefited from Fremantle’s horror run of form and injuries this year.
With the likes of Nat Fyfe, Harley Bennell, Aaron Sandilands, and Michael Johnson out injured, Blakely is among the next crop of Dockers to have been given vital game time.
Ed Langdon, Lachie Weller, Alex Pearce, Sam Collins, and Ethan Hughes are other young guns who have benefited from the crisis, with coach Ross Lyon putting his focus into promoting the club’s youth.