Here’s a fact that’s easy to forget: Matt Taberner has spent seven seasons on Fremantle’s list.
In that time, despite showing great glimpses of promise, he’s never managed more than 18 goals in a year.
Get ready for that to change in a big way.
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Now 25, Taberner has shrugged off injury and form concerns and is now primed to take ‘The Leap’ – one that Dockers fans have been anticipating for some time.
If last week’s strong showing against the Eagles – poor kicking aside – was a statement of intent, his outing against GWS in Canberra today was simply a statement.
OK, the poor kicking is still there at times. Another miss from close to the top of the goalsquare, to accompany his poster in last week’s derby, was a head scratcher.
But think of it this way: When the kicking catches up to the marking, and growing presence, Taberner is going to be a fearsome prospect for opposition sides.
Xavier Ellis this week said he expected Taberner to climb into Fremantle’s best trio of players by season’s end, alongside Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters.
The key forward played today as if he was hellbent on making that prediction come true.
Taberner soared for a whopping seven marks inside 50, including a monster in the goalsquare early in the final term.
It came along with 21 possessions, 13 total marks and 3.3, which should have been more if not for a couple of jitters in front of the sticks.
So much has been said and written about the Dockers’ recruits up forward. Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb were touted by some as a possible reason for Taberner to be squeezed out of Freo’s forward set-up altogether.
But so far this season, Taberner has proven to be his side’s best bet in the forward half. He’s booted 10 goals, sits in the AFL’s top four for contested marks, and is growing in confidence and stature by the quarter.
If he learns to convert, he’ll take it to another level altogether.