When Geelong took on Richmond in the 2020 decider, Jordan Clark was not required – instead relegated to the half-time entertainment where he took out the grand final sprint.
When the Fremantle meet the Tigers on Friday night, the dashing defender will be very much required.
Clark is approaching his 50th game enjoying a career-best form patch, having earned coaches votes in the Dockers’ past two wins as an increasingly important springboard.
Since round 13, he has ranked above average for his position in disposals, intercept possessions and score involvements and elite for kicking efficiency.
The 21-year-old Albany product has not looked back since an acrimonious move from the Cats, where he played his first 32 games, to the Dockers in last year’s trade period.
Clark is one of just four Fremantle players to have played every game this season, alongside Andrew Brayshaw, Luke Ryan and fellow recruit Will Brodie, and is on the cusp of his first finals series after being denied by either injury or selection fate three times at his former club.
“I certainly came back to Freo thinking that we were going to be pretty competitive,” Clark said.
“But to be in the top four as we speak and looking to try and hold onto that is a pretty big effort from such a young group and a group that’s still got a lot to learn and a lot to improve on.”
Clark cost the Dockers pick 22, plus a future third-round pick for a future fourth-round pick, after they ultimately got their man.
He said immediately receiving a defined role from coach Justin Longmuir and backline coach Matthew Boyd had helped settle his stop-start career.
“I think from day one when I walked in, I sat down with Matthew Boyd and JL and they sort of just said that I want you across half-back,” he said.
“And I had a few things to work on, a few things to tidy up. So I got to work with Boydy and JL as well and that’s where I am today.”
The only two away finals victories in Fremantle’s history have come against Geelong, in the 2012 elimination final and 2013 qualifying final, and with the teams sitting first and fourth with five rounds remaining it’s a scenario that could be revisited.
As well as being one Clark would love to see.
“I knew (Geelong) were going to be really competitive and they’re flying along at the moment,” he said.
“I hope that we get the match-up in the finals because we want to be playing the best teams.”
Clark said the 12-5 Dockers hadn’t considered how many of their last five games they might need to win to sew up a top-four finish, but acknowledged it was time to get on a roll after going 2-2 over the past month.
“I don’t even know who we’re playing next week,” he said.
“I think it’s just a week to week thing for us. It’s pretty clichéd and everyone hates hearing it, but we don’t really talk about how many wins we need.
“We’ve just got to win this week, then win next week, win the week after.”