2022 AFL Season Preview
AFL8 Mar 2022

2022 Fremantle Dockers AFL Season Preview

A disappointing end to their home and away campaign saw a finals placing slip through the Dockers’ fingers, with losses to the Swans, Lions and Saints ending any hope of a top-eight finish.

Despite the substantial loss of Adam Cerra, the Dockers have been able to plug the gaps and continue their transition toward premiership contention, with promising recruits from both the trade and drafts pathways bolstering their plans for 2022.

Recruitment report

In: Will Brodie, Jordan Clark, Jye Amiss, Neil Erasmus, Matt Johnson, Eric Benning, Karl Worner

Out: Brett Bewley, Taylin Duman, Reece Conca, Stefan Giro, Stephen Hill, Tobe Watson, Leon Thomas, Adam Cerra, Luke Valente

2021 Rankings

Turnovers - 4th

Stoppage Clearances - 6th

Hit-outs - 6th

Goal Accuracy - 18th

Tackles - 17th

Tackles Inside 50 - 18th

Star player: Nat Fyfe

There’s no question that when fit, Nat Fyfe is the most valued player among the Dockers’ tribe, with the dual Brownlow Medal winner a sensation to behold when at full flight.

Fyfe has endured injuries across the past several seasons which have kept Fremantle's finals aspirations limited, with their star veteran offering 25.3 disposals, 5.6 clearances and 14.2 contested possessions per match across his 202-game career to best place the WA club on a steady course when he steps on the field.

With further voids opening up in midfield, the reliance on Fyfe to be back to his best is paramount for the Dockers’ plans to feature in September. The 30-year-old is likely to share his time between the engine room and in attack, with Justin Longmuir looking to spread his match-winner across the park.

One to watch: Neil Erasmus

Fremantle’s top 10 selection in local prodigy Neil Erasmus is sure to have excited Dockers fans almost immediately, but it has been the pre-season hype and form that has placed further attention on the Subiaco product.

Erasmus is a mercurial half-forward capable of moving into midfield, where he knows how to find the ball and distribute it with efficiency. While his groundwork is sublime, Erasmus is more than capable of being an aerial threat up on the wing or in attacking 50.

With the Dockers looking to uncover their next draft gem, Erasmus could be the next young recruit that has a substantial impact on Justin Longmuir’s planning and at AFL level.

Under pressure: Michael Walters

The veteran forward endured a backwards step in his career last season to amass an average of less than one goal per game - the first time since his rookie season in 2009.

Walters struggled to have the same influence on the game as seen in years gone by, with ‘Sonny’ seeing his time in midfield descend while his prowess in front of goal faced similar parallels.

With the Dockers looking to break the next barrier and emerge as a finals threat, Walters will need to return to his All-Australian form to give his side the best chance of landing a top-eight finish.

2022 Expectations

Having lost key personnel in the off-season, the Dockers’ midfield has taken a hit, however they do have the emerging reinforcements to potentially combat any backwards step that has been taken in their list demographic.

While midfield will be a key focus, it’s perhaps either end of the field that will gauge the most attention for change from the Dockers we saw last season. Their defence faced an onslaught of injuries in 2021 to struggle at times to compete with the elite. Should their rearguard be working efficiently and with full fitness, the Dockers could quickly become a defensive powerhouse.

At the other end, accuracy in front of goal was a major issue for the Dockers, becoming the most inefficient tip of the spear across the league. There’s plenty on offer for the Dockers in 2022, but which side steps up to the occasion is sure to determine their fate.

Five matches to watch

Round 3 vs. West Coast, Optus Stadium, Sunday April 3

Round 6 vs. Carlton, Optus Stadium, Saturday April 23

Round 7 vs. Geelong, GMHBA Stadium, Saturday April 30

Round 10 vs. Collingwood, Optus Stadium, TBC

Round 22 vs. West Coast, Optus Stadium, TBC

All time games

  1. David Mundy - 354
  2. Matthew Pavlich - 353
  3. Aaron Sandilands - 271
  4. Michael Johnson - 244
  5. Luke McPharlin - 244

All time goals

  1. Matthew Pavlich - 700
  2. Michael Walters - 290
  3. Hayden Ballantyne - 254
  4. Jeff Farmer - 224
  5. Chris Mayne - 196

2021 Stats

MOST DISPOSALS: Andrew Brayshaw - 568

MOST TACKLES: Andrew Brayshaw - 93

MOST CLEARANCES: David Mundy - 117

MOST MARKS: Luke Ryan - 136

MOST GOALS: Matthew Taberner - 37