It’s been a dirty derby dozen of consecutive losses to their fiercest rivals, but you won’t hear the drought talked about at East Fremantle in the lead-up to Monday afternoon’s blockbuster.
East Fremantle’s focus is on continuing their good form and not the possibility of breaking a 12-game winless run against neighbouring South Fremantle in the WA Day Derby.
The clash at Fremantle Community Bank Oval will be the 10,000th WAFL game to be played, remarkably 137 years since the first game between Victorians and Rovers in 1885.
Topping the table and on a five-game winning streak, the Sharks are in the best position to win their first derby since round 6, 2016. But forward Jono Marsh wants his team to approach it as just another game.
“We’re going into this game trusting our processes and we believe if we do that, the outcome will come,” Marsh said.
“As much as you can read into the losing streak and we haven’t beaten South in a while, we’re just treating it like another game.
“We don’t want to get too riled up and too antsy, because that’s when your mind will drift to the outcome instead of the process and that’s not what we’re trying to achieve this year.”
Marsh is having a fine season with 14 goals in four games, and credits his training as a midfielder in the pre-season to his strong start.
“I trained as a midfielder the whole pre-season and now the mids are doing OK I don’t have to spend much time in there,” he said.
“As a team, we’re playing beautifully, we train really hard and I think this has been building for a couple of years.
“Where other people were writing us off, we were internally knowing we were building something good. Our culture and training standards are brilliant, so I think it’s a reward for effort for two or three years of building it.”
The Sharks were dealt a pre-match blow, with in-form forward Luke English missing with COVID-19.
Ryan Lester-Smith and Alex Montauban return, while Reuben McGuire comes into the side after the loss of Brynn Teakle to Port Adelaide.
South Fremantle have welcomed back utility Blake Schlensog for his first game of 2022, as well as Brandon Donaldson and Josh Cuneo.
Defender Jordan Boullineau is suspended, while Ben Rioli and Jarrod Salmeri have been omitted.