Matthew Pavlich has conceded the attitude and effort that Fremantle pride themselves on under coach Ross Lyon was badly missing in their first pre-season hit-out.
The Dockers captain was substituted into Tuesday’s NAB Challenge match against West Coast at Arena Joondalup at half time after sitting out the first two quarters.
The 32-year-old booted two goals, but could not drag his side back into a contest they lost by a resounding 84 points after conceding eight goals in the first quarter alone.
It was the second slow start to a pre-season for last year’s grand finalists, who were also thumped in a corresponding NAB Cup fixture against Carlton last year.
Pavlich, who predicted the Eagles would be major improvers in 2014, said the club was in a heavy training phase, but stressed that did not excuse Tuesday’s performance.
“If you don’t turn up with the right attitude and intensity, this competition will find you out very quickly,” he said.
“Our effort was way off the mark on Tuesday and a team who had a new coach and wanted to impress absolutely smashed us.
“It’s a really sharp reminder of how even the competition is. There’s always a couple of teams that bob up from the bottom eight – the following year they pop up. We’re expecting West Coast to go really well this year.”
Speaking from the club’s season launch at Crown Burswood this morning, Pavlich said the lack of endeavour shown by the team against their derby rivals had been a “mental choice”.
Expectation surrounding Fremantle has reached new peaks following the club’s first grand final appearance in 19 years.
The Dockers have been installed by bookmakers as one of the clear premiership favourites alongside Hawthorn and Sydney.
“It means nothing to us,” Pavlich said.
“West Coast were premiership favourites this time last year and had an indifferent season. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again.”