Dockers to unveil their new Lachie Neale

Justin Chadwick and Murray Wenzel
Midfielder Caleb Serong will debut for Fremantle against the Suns on the Gold Coast this weekend

Fremantle will launch version 2.0 of the Nat Fyfe-Lachie Neale partnership when they take on in-form Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night.

The Dockers were dealt a huge blow at the end of 2018 when Neale defected to Brisbane.

Neale has taken his game to even greater heights since then, and is one of the early favourites to win this year's Brownlow medal.

The Dockers struggled without Neale's midfield influence last year but they believe they have now found his football clone - Caleb Serong.

The No.8 pick from last year's national draft will make his AFL debut this weekend, and Fremantle's players and coaches reckon he's a younger football version of Neale.

Even the statures of Serong (179cm, 81kg) and Neale (178cm, 84kg) are similar.

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir said it was simply impossible to overlook the 19-year-old any longer.

"He's so clean, competitive, tough," Longmuir said.

"He's a player that during the shutdown period went away from the club and came back a better footballer.

"He's worked on his running. He's a competitive animal, and he's got a real thirst for contact.

"It's probably something we've been missing a little bit - those bigger harder bodies that just love to bash and crash."

Fremantle will be hoping Serong can follow in the footsteps of Matt Rowell by making an instant impact at AFL level.

Rowell has shot into Brownlow contention just three games into his senior career, and he looms as a major obstacle for Fremantle on Saturday.

The Suns (2-1) have been in the hottest of form since the season resumed, putting West Coast and Adelaide to the sword.

Fremantle (0-3) are fighting to keep their season alive.

Dockers skipper Nat Fyfe has been in strong form this season, but the two-time Brownlow medallist has been criticised for not defending well enough.

Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew doesn't agree with that criticism.

"You can only expose him if your team's going well and I'd argue if the opposition is going well everyone is getting exposed going the other way," Dew said.

"So I think he does get highlighted unfairly in that space because he's such a weapon for the team when they're going and can turn momentum when they're not.

"I'm definitely not a subscriber of going out and deliberately trying to target him the other way, because we might be barking up the wrong tree."

Fremantle have been boosted by the return of Stephen Hill, but the loss of Brennan Cox to a hip injury further exposes a defence already missing Joel Hamling (ankle) and Alex Pearce (ankle).