Peel coach Geoff Valentine has credited dominant Fremantle ruck Lloyd Meek for his consistency amid contract speculation and pressure on his AFL spot.
The 24-year-old is shaping up as a Sandover Medal smokey after another best-afield performance in Saturday’s 73-point demolition of West Coast in Mandurah.
Meek easily got the better of Eagles AFL-listed pair Bailey Williams and Hugh Dixon, both at the stoppages and with his elite work rate and follow-up around the ground.
He finished with 33 hit-outs, 22 disposals, five marks, four tackles and a goal in a well-rounded display to help the Thunder keep fifth spot with round one to go.
Valentine said he’s come to expect those sorts of performances from Meek, who “no doubt” would be getting some rival AFL interest ahead of the trade period in October.
It comes after Channel Seven’s chief football writer Tom Browne revealed Greater Western Sydney, who Meek played against in Canberra in the final home-and-away round, had made enquiries about the country Victorian.
“I think those are perhaps the options before him,” Valentine said.
“He’s obviously contracted for next year but I’ve got no doubt, going from what I read in the papers, that there’s five, six, seven clubs that are saying ‘hey mate, come to us and we’ll make you our No.1 ruckman’.
“He’s just been enormous for us and we know what we’re going to get, 23 or 24 touches, 15 of those will be contested, clearance work, drifting forward and taking a couple of marks.
“It’s just the growth in his game and he’s a wonderful fella and we’re lucky enough to have him.”
The athletic 203cm giant is more unlikely than likely to hold his spot in the Fremantle line-up for next Saturday night’s AFL elimination final against Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium with a trio of tall forwards in the mix to return from injury.
Swingman Griffin Logue (groin) and forward/ruck Rory Lobb (shoulder) are both expected to play, while coach Justin Longmuir said confirmed Matt Taberner was touch and go to come back from a calf issue.
Meek gave selectors food for thought with his improved forward craft, taking a couple of contested marks inside 50 and kicking a goal.
His Dockers and Thunder teammate Bailey Banfield said the smooth-moving big man has showed he’s “too good for the level” this season.
“We’ve seen that today and throughout the whole season really,” Banfield told The West Australian.
“He’s too good to be playing at this level and it’s shown in his performances.
“He’s dominant here and when he does step up to AFL level, and we’ve seen that this year with Wils (veteran defender Nathan Wilson) as well and Hughesy (defender Ethan Hughes), all of those boys play well and do what the team needs.
“They’ve just been a bit unlucky with team balance and structure and the AFL team has been going really well as well, so it’s hard to break into as I know as well.”
Meek, who signed a two-year contract extension at the end of last year, has played 16 games for the Dockers including six this season, struggling for regular appearances behind first-choice ruck Sean Darcy and the versatile Rory Lobb and Griffin Logue.
Things could be complicated further next season when the expected arrival of Melbourne premiership tall Luke Jackson.