Dockers give Jack a crack
Dockers give Jack a crack

A rejuvenated Jack Anthony is ready to press for a berth in Fremantle's early line-up and may resume as a forward.

Dockers football manager Chris Bond said Anthony had been training with the forwards for most of the pre-season and had achieved far higher fitness and confidence levels after a disappointing 2011.

Anthony is expected to play in Fremantle's first official match practice of the season, a 60-minute intraclub hit-out at Patersons Stadium next Friday.

Club stars Matthew Pavlich, Luke McPharlin, Aaron Sandilands and Stephen Hill are expected to play.

The 24-year-old Anthony, who kicked 50 goals in 2009 and a deadly 25.6 from 12 games in 2008 at Coll- ingwood, was recruited via the pre-season draft to bolster Fremantle's attacking options but played just four games in 2011.

He was left out of the line-up for round one against Brisbane even though Fremantle were missing seven of their best 22, didn't play AFL until the first western derby in round eight and then didn't play again until round 19.

His form at his allocated WAFL club Subiaco was steady rather than spectacular.

With Fremantle's injury-riddled squad on its knees Anthony played the last two games of the season as a defender but injured a hamstring in the middle of Subiaco's finals campaign.

Bond said there were no secrets to Anthony's improved training form. He had been able to complete almost all the pre-season program and would enter the 2012 season a more confident player as a result.

"He hasn't missed a beat and he has been giving it his all. It is what we expect.

"It looks like he is going to put his best foot forward to get some games in the NAB Cup and then we will just see how he goes from there."

Bond would not go so far as to declare that Anthony would revert to attack but confirmed he had been doing most work with Peter Sumich's forward group in drills.

At a media conference when he joined the Dockers last year, Sumich nominated Anthony as a tall attacking option.

"He has been working that way but I don't think we have pigeon-holed him for a specific position as yet," Bond said. "But it is where he has been training and it is likely.

"He has got the ability to play at both ends as we saw last year."

Anthony, who has played 47 games, was squeezed out of Collingwood's best attack midway through their 2010 premiership season because of the emergence of Chris Dawes as a second marking target to Travis Cloke, and the use of ruckmen Darren Jolly and Leigh Brown forward to give the Magpies four tall-forward options, all of whom kicked more than 20 goals for the season.

Anthony was courted by the Dockers as part of their list management strategy to secure an uncontracted player via the pre-season draft each year and was lured with a three-year contract.

Matthew Pavlich looks set to return to attack at Fremantle but, while there is no clear second target at this point, Anthony will have to claim a spot alongside or ahead of several contenders.

Chris Mayne, Zac Clarke and back-up ruck options Kepler Brad- ley and Jon Griffin are in the mix and Michael Johnson is able to play in defence or attack.

"He hasn't missed a beat and he has been giving it his all. It looks like he is going to put his best foot forward to get some games in the NAB Cup and we will just see how he goes from there.""Dockers football manager *Chris Bond *

The West Australian

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