Fremantle draftee Lachie Neale is firmly in the frame for a round-one debut after several impressive performances throughout the pre-season, according to teammate Greg Broughton.
Neale has been one of the surprise packets of the off-season. Recruited with pick 58 in last year's national draft, Neale has jumped over the three players that Fremantle chose ahead of him to play every pre-season game.
The Dockers have stuck with a stable team in the first two rounds of the NAB Cup so the players can prepare for the home-and-away season, which bodes well for Neale.
He has handled the pace of AFL level and played close to goal and further up the field. Broughton said he was a strong chance to make his debut if he maintained his form.
"He's a youngster. He knows what he's got to work on with the team structures. He played well again so I think he'd be pushing for round one," Broughton said.
"But you never know with the coaching staff. We've got a fit 46 players out there to choose from.
"If he gets an opportunity, that'd be great."
The South Australian has an opportunity to return home this week when Fremantle play Port Adelaide at Victor Harbor.
With Hayden Ballantyne moving to the midfield, a vacancy exists for a small forward. At just 177cm, Neale is the perfect height to play as a crumbing forward, but is more adept at winning his own ball around the contests.
Neale collected 19 possessions against Richmond on Sunday despite spending the third quarter on the bench as a second-half substitute. He joined Fremantle having already played senior SANFL football and appears to be a draft bargain.
Broughton said Neale had impressed everyone because he knew how to get the ball and set up scores.
"That's where he's been playing at the moment - the half-forward role. He's been finding the ball and he's been playing well for the team," Broughton said.
"He's an in-and-under sort of player. He gets to every contest.
"His strength is the hard-ball get and the key to getting the ball forward for us.
"He's fairly quiet around the club. As every first-year (player) is, you stick to the first-year players. But he gets around and says g'day to all the boys. He's very upbeat."