Fremantle veteran Matthew Pavlich is adamant the club can still reach this year’s AFL finals, and says coach Ross Lyon is the right man to lead them there.
The Dockers’ premiership hopes are already hanging by a thread following their 0-3 start to the season.
Serious injuries to key players Aaron Sandilands (ribs/lung) and Harley Bennell (calf) have compounded Fremantle’s woes, leaving last year’s minor premiers with a battle just to make the top eight.
The new attacking game plan introduced by Lyon this season has come under heavy fire, with players wilting under the pressure of high-octane football.
But Pavlich is confident the tide will soon turn, saying the players need to take more responsibility for the shoddy start to the year.
“With any type of shift or change, there’s a bit of a lag time before it actually gets executed the way we want,” Pavlich said on Wednesday.
“Ross and the coaches are doing a great job at explaining that, teaching us that.
“But it’s up to the players now to take responsibility and execute it.”
No team has ever reached the finals from 0-4.
Fremantle are staring down the barrel of that position heading into Sunday’s clash with unbeaten North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.
But even if the Dockers do fall to their fourth straight loss, Pavlich said they wouldn’t be putting up the white flag.
“Australia II – they turned up didn’t they in 1983 after 100-odd years of not winning it. So it’s not going to stop us from turning up and having a go,” Pavlich said in reference to the famous America’s Cup win.
Pavlich has been a rare shining light for the Dockers this season, booting three goals in last week’s western derby loss to West Coast.
One of the goals – a banana kick from the pocket – will go down as one of the great derby highlights.
The 34-year-old almost retired at the end of last season, but he’s happy with his decision to play on – despite Fremantle’s struggles.
“I’ve been very fortunate to play this game for a long time, and it wasn’t something that I was just going to give up in the blink of an eye,” Pavlich said.
“I gave it a lot of consideration and spoke to a lot of key people and felt as though I had a little bit more to give.
“At this stage of the season I feel as though I’ve been able to do that.
“Time will tell exactly how it all pans out, but I’d rather take the emotional risk and leave it all out there, compared to shy away from a problem or shy away from playing.”
Pavlich said he had felt refreshed since relinquishing the captaincy to David Mundy.