The West

Freo teen Neale s baptism of fire
Lachie Neale flying out of Perth airport on Wednesday. Pic: Michael Wilson/WA News

Fremantle have shown belief in teenager Lachie Neale by naming him to make his debut against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium tonight.

Nat Fyfe was cleared yesterday to be considered for selection despite dislocating a shoulder against Brisbane last Saturday, but Neale's inclusion was telling against a Saints team unchanged after a big win over the Western Bulldogs.

Football operations manager Chris Bond said the Dockers had no hesitation in picking Neale.

The 18-year-old Glenelg product was considered a strong round-one prospect until he injured an ankle against Port Adelaide at Victor Harbor during the NAB Cup.

"He's fought his way back through that and he's a great person to have around the club," Bond said. "He's worked really hard since coming here.

"It's terrific for him and terrific for his family to get a game in such a big match as this. It's Friday night footy in Melbourne against quality opposition and we don't think he'll be overawed by that.

"These are the games we want to play in. We want to play quality teams and St Kilda are definitely that.

"We've had huge change in our club over the last four years or so and our players are getting to a maturity level where we want them to be able to cope with these situations and thrive on them."

Bond confirmed Fyfe's condition was similar to that which had hampered him throughout last season. He also said the club would not risk the valuable commodity.

"Obviously we got advice on it today and we'll continue to get that tomorrow, but from all reports it's looking good," Bond said.

"We've still got to work with him closely and we'll continue to do that and see how it pulls up and go from there. It's very similar to last year.

"He's really bullish about it. We're still keen about it and looking forward to it."

Bond said he was not worried that Fyfe's shoulder was likely to be targeted by opponents.

"Once a person is declared fit to play, all is fair in love and war," he said. "He's a player who plays a very hard brand of footy and that wouldn't change whether he's got a sore shoulder or not."

Midfielder Stephen Hill, whose brother Brad will make his debut for Hawthorn against West Coast at Patersons Stadium tomorrow night, is likely to cop a tight tag, possibly from Saints hard nut Clint Jones.

Bond said Hill would be ready for the attention.

"Our coaches work closely with Stephen and we've known that ever since he stepped foot on AFL soil that he's been closely checked," he said.

"He realises that, we realise that and he's continually worked his way through it."


"He's worked really hard since coming here. It's terrific for him and terrific for his family to get a game in such a big match as this."" *Chris Bond *on * Lachie Neale *

The West Australian

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