Fremantle skipper Matthew Pavlich needs to dramatically increase his scoring output during the remainder of the finals series if he is to cement his status as one of the AFL’s all-time greats, according to triple premiership spearhead Jonathan Brown.
Pavlich has built a reputation for standing up in big games, but he went goalless in his team’s nine-point qualifying final win over Sydney a fortnight ago.
The Dockers have struggled to post big scores in the second half of the season, raising doubts over whether they possess enough firepower to win the premiership.
Fremantle’s flag hopes will go on the line when they take on Hawthorn in Friday night’s preliminary final at Domain Stadium.
The Hawks are the best offensive side in the competition, and Fremantle will need Pavlich to fire if they are to taste victory.
Brown, who won a hat-trick of flags with Brisbane during his decorated 256-game career, said Pavlich needed to step up with a big bag of goals in each of the next two games.
“Matthew Pavlich needs a September to remember for mine,” Brown told Fox Footy’s On the Couch.
“His goalkicking hasn’t been good enough the last few weeks for Fremantle.
“Fremantle need him to kick big bags. We know they lack a lot of scoring. This is the time for Pav to step up.
“He missed his chance in 2013 when they lost the GF and Brian Lake got a Norm Smith medal on him.
“This is the time when he can go out and stand up. (If he can do that), he’ll go to the pinnacle of all-time greats.
“But if he misses out on this, it’s just going to be a little bit of a knock on his career.
“He needs to really stand up. It’s probably his last season. He needs to be able to carry those guys.”
Pavlich, a six-time All-Australian winner, has never won a premiership.
The 33-year-old has been widely tipped to retire after this season, meaning this may be his last crack at tasting flag glory.
Pavlich booted 3.2 from 13 disposals in the 2013 grand final loss to Hawthorn.
His most famous finals performance came against Geelong in 2012, when he kicked 6.0 in a shock elimination final win at the MCG.
Pavlich has managed just 39 goals from 21 games this season, with soreness in his troublesome Achilles tendon affecting his output over the past month.
With no rain forecast for Friday, Fremantle are expected to hand 198cm forward Matt Taberner a recall to help out Pavlich out in attack.
And goalsneaks Hayden Ballantyne and Michael Walters also loom as key figures after they booted three goals apiece in the qualifying final win.