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Opportunity knocks for young Docker Smith
Tanner Smith. Pic: AFL Media

Fremantle assistant coach Peter Sumich says draftee Tanner Smith will have an opportunity to impress at both ends of the ground over the next few weeks as the club prepares to blood the young tall in a practice match against Adelaide tomorrow.

The Dockers flew out to Adelaide this morning with a squad of 26 players, including star midfielders Nat Fyfe and David Mundy who are set for their first competitive hit-out of the year after being held back from last week’s NAB Cup fixture against West Coast and Geelong.

Key forward Kepler Bradley is also set to make his first appearance of the year, but with skipper Matthew Pavlich still returning from offseason surgery, the Dockers will be trialling a number of players in the forward line as they look for a more permanent replacement.

Speaking at Perth Airport this morning, Sumich said Smith, drafted as a 196cm backman, may be given an opportunity forward after impressing on the track since arriving at Fremantle via the second round of last year’s national draft.

“I think in the TAC Cup he kicked four goals or five goals up forward in a couple of games so I think he can play both ends and we’ll just wait and see with him,” Sumich said.

“It depends on how he goes tomorrow, then we play Carlton away and Western Bulldogs (in Mandurah) so if he performs well he might get another opportunity the following week.”

Sumich said Alex Silvagni would not be used as a forward during the regular season despite playing there in both games last weekend.

“We were a little bit short up forward last week so that why (Silvagni) got shunted into the forward line, but more than likely he’ll be our key backman going forward,” he said.

With an expected top of 36 degrees in Adelaide tomorrow, Sumich said the club would be using all 26 players to ensure they don't burn out in the heat.

The AFL attracted criticism last week for not enacting a heat policy in the pre-season fixture between the Crows, Port Adelaide and St Kilda, played in 38 degree weather.

However because tomorrow's match is not an official NAB Cup fixture, the clubs will be allowed to manage rotations as they see fit.

“It's going to be fairly hot over there so we want to make sure we’re not burning them out,” Sumich said.

“We’ll rotate players through and we’ll be cautious on minutes.”