Dockers ready to open in style
Luke McPharlin. Pic: Getty Images

Star Fremantle defender Luke McPharlin says the Dockers are tuned to the minute for tonight's season opener against Collingwood and know they have to perform well to get through a tough early start to the year.

The Dockers were given the honour of launching the season after finishing runner-up to Hawthorn in last year's grand final.

But with that honour came the challenge of being ready off a reduced preparation ahead of a daunting schedule that will see them play the Magpies, Gold Coast, Hawthorn, Essendon, Sydney, North Melbourne, West Coast, Port Adelaide and Geelong before their round-10 bye.

McPharlin said the players were "on the money" and ready for any challenge that came their way.

"It's always very important to get away to a good start. I'm sure every club wants to and we're no different," McPharlin said.

"We have a tough draw. We appreciate that. We had a tough period last year as well. There were about eight or 10 games where we were missing a lot of key personnel and managed to battle through that period.

"We know that if we keep coming with our great effort and game plan that it tends to stand up. We're hoping that will stand us in good stead, particularly in these early rounds."

The Dockers last night named a strong team, with 20 of the 22 who played on grand final day chosen.

Young rukman Jack Hannath replaced Zac Clarke, while Tom Sheridan came into the team for the suspended Nick Suban.

Clarke, Clancee Pearce and Colin Sylvia were picked as emergencies.

McPharlin said the team was well advanced compared with the early rounds of 2013.

"It's always good to have your best players on the park," he said.

"In this case we're very fortunate in particular to have Aaron Sandilands and Matthew Pavlich who weren't really playing much footy this time of year last year.

"That certainly fills us with confidence going into the season.

"But at the end of the day, when the ball is bounced, we have to give great effort."

Collingwood overlooked former West Coast forward Quinten Lynch in favour of 209cm ruckman Jarrod Witts.

Former Greater Western Sydney player Taylor Adams will make his maiden appearance for the Magpies, while draftee Tom Langdon has been named for his AFL debut.

Alan Toovey returns after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament last season. Young defender Jack Frost and former Hawthorn wingman Clinton Young were other notable inclusions for Nathan Buckley's side.

Fremantle are one of the premiership favourites this year, but McPharlin warned the team couldn't afford to think beyond each game.

"The past is the past and we need to move on," McPharlin said. "At this point in time, we can't allow any of that to creep into our focus or mentality going forward because we know every other team at this point in time feels that they can win it.

"So, we're back to square one and we need to start again."

The West Australian

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