Fremantle are drawing up multiple plans for taming Sydney superstar Lance Franklin, with preferred match-up Alex Pearce in doubt after being unable to train fully under lights at their Cockburn base on Wednesday night.
The Dockers switched up their usual routine as they continue a run of night games against fellow contenders, with their clash with the Swans at Optus Stadium followed by a pair of glamour Friday night assignments against Richmond and Melbourne.
Franklin, who will play in his home State for the first time since reaching the 1000-goal milestone earlier this year, has proved unstoppable with 14 goals in his only two previous appearances at Optus Stadium.
Pearce began the session by walking laps alone and later joined in part of the session. He withdrew from last Saturday night’s match against St Kilda after hurting his calf in the warm-up.
Brennan Cox looms as the next in line for Franklin after taming Max King, though Griffin Logue has also previously had the match-up and boasts the athletic power to match the Sydney spearhead. Franklin booted six goals on Logue when the Dockers held on for a two-point win in round 10 last year in Perth.
Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir said he would take no risks with Pearce.
“He’s a great match-up for Buddy,” Longmuir said. “(Franklin) leads their goal kicking and still warrants the same attention as he always has.
“That won’t override the decision though. We’ll put Alex’s welfare first.”
and the last thing we want to do is turn this into a longer injury than it needs to be.”
Longmuir didn’t guarantee returns for Blake Acres or Heath Chapman despite them being available after recovering from hamstring injuries.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” he said.
“We played some really strong footy on the road last week, won by 40 points.
“For me, that says a lot of players played their role within the team and as a coach I like to reward that.”
Chapman, who resumed in the WAFL last weekend, came from the track holding his chest midway through the session but returned shortly after.
Franklin is yet to sign a deal for next year amid reports of a contract impasse with the Swans.
Longmuir said recruiting the 35-year-old to Freo “hasn’t really crossed my mind”.
With the Dockers understood to be growing increasingly confident of their chances of landing Melbourne premiership big man Luke Jackson, Longmuir said he wanted to keep in-form and in-demand forward-ruck Rory Lobb regardless of what other trades transpired.
Longmuir said he had met Lobb, who tried to leave Fremantle last year with two years remaining on his contract.
“I reassured him that I see him that I see him as part of our long-term future,” he said.
“He’s contracted for us next year.
“ And he reassured me that he’s going to stay in the moment and keep competing the way he’s been competing and playing the best footy he can for Fremantle is top priority for him at the moment.
“He’s leading our goal kicking. He’s been one of our more consistent forwards for the year.
“So you don’t really want to lose those type of players.”