Dockers in a hurry to snare AFL flag

·3-min read

Stand-in Fremantle captain Alex Pearce is optimistic his side can have a fair dinkum crack at this year's AFL flag, but first he needs to take care of business against the Astro-Naught.

The Dockers will end their six-year finals drought when they take on the Western Bulldogs in Saturday night's elimination final at Optus Stadium.

Finishing outside of the top four means the Dockers will need to beat the Bulldogs at home before winning a semi-final, preliminary final, and grand final on the road in order to snare the flag.

Twenty years ago, uttering the word 'finals' at Fremantle was almost a forbidden thing.

But the Dockers are now a bold club who are not afraid to publicly unveil their lofty expectations.

Fremantle have already declared they want to win an AFL and AFLW premiership by 2025, and Pearce said the player group believed a flag was within their reach this year.

"I think we can (win it this year)," Pearce told AAP.

"I think throughout the season we've played some really good footy, and at our best we can challenge anyone.

"For us to win a premiership and to be the first Fremantle team to win a premiership, that's pretty special and it holds a bit more weight.

"It's definitely a motivating factor for all of us."

First, the Dockers need to beat the Bulldogs, who made it to last year's grand final from fifth spot.

The Dockers swung a huge selection shock when they picked one-game forward Jye Amiss, who has been sidelined for most of the season after undergoing surgery on a kidney injury.

Amiss will join returning duo Rory Lobb and Griffin Logue up forward, with Matt Taberner to feature in the WAFL after recovering from a calf injury.

Dockers skipper Nat Fyfe was ruled out after injuring his hamstring at training last Saturday, while Lloyd Meek was axed to make room for Lobb.

The Bulldogs dropped out-of-form forward Josh Bruce and lost clearance machine Tom Liberatore to a hamstring injury.

Veteran Taylor Duryea will miss the clash in order to stay in Melbourne and await the imminent birth of his first child.

Key back Alex Keath, Norm Smith medallist Jason Johannisen and Toby McLean come into the side.

Pearce, who will be featuring in his first finals series after overcoming a horror run of leg injuries earlier in his career, will be given the task of quelling star Bulldogs forward Aaron Naughton.

Naughton, known as the Astro-Naught for his high-flying exploits, has booted a career-high 51 goals this season, and he kicked three majors against Fremantle four weeks ago.

Pearce labelled Naughton the "main man" up forward, and he is keen to receive all the help he can get.

"What makes things easier for me is having our defensive group," Pearce said.

"When I run out there with Luke Ryan, Brennan Cox, Hayden Young, Heath Chapman - guys like that besides me - I have so much faith and trust that they're going to help me.

"We're all going to work together. It makes the burden of playing on the best forwards in the comp a little bit easier."