Fremantle's forward line will be able to cast off the burden of an interrupted pre-season by sharing the load and protecting captain Matthew Pavlich in the season-opening western derby, according to set-shot specialist Chris Mayne.
Saturday's 109-point NAB Cup win over the Western Bulldogs was the first time the Dockers had been able to field their first-choice forward line this year.
An ankle injury to Mayne and off-season surgeries for Pavlich had interrupted their preparation.
The two spearheads enjoyed a relatively smooth return to action against the young Bulldogs side, kicking three goals each with ample support from fellow forwards Michael Walters (four goals), Matt de Boer (three) and Hayden Ballantyne (two).
It was a performance not unlike those that catapulted the Dockers into the finals last year through victory in eight of their last nine regular-season games.
Pavlich kicked 34 goals in those nine games but is expected to take some time to fire this season given he did not start full training until midway through last month.
With the rest of the forward group having completed the vast majority of pre-season training, Mayne says there will be plenty of players who can step up and play a bigger role while the skipper works his way back to full fitness.
"We're really starting to build some great chemistry with each other, we're really working for one another," Mayne said.
"It's not just about yourself it's about the team and this small little group, we're pretty close and we don't focus on goals and who's kicking them, it's more about the team and about what we can do for the team.
"We believe in what we stand for as a side and that's everyone buying in, it's not waiting for Matthew Pavlich to step up, Luke McPharlin to do something, it's the 22 players buying in and whoever that is on the day, it's everyone playing their role, not just one person, every- one."
Second-year forward Hayden Crozier has emerged as a round-one option after an impressive NAB Cup but is likely to be competing with Lachie Neale for a spot.With Josh Mellington also creating a case through strong performances at West Perth, Mayne said it would be tougher than ever to crack the best 22.
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