Clarke at Peel in  new-look WAFL

Fremantle ruckman Zac Clarke will audition for an immediate recall to AFL ranks after being cleared to take centre stage in the first road test of the WAFL's new alignment model.

The 23-year-old has been named in a forward pocket for Peel Thunder for a clash with East Perth at Bendigo Bank Stadium today that Dockers football operations manager Chris Bond labelled as an exciting moment for the competition.

More than 20 Fremantle and West Coast-listed players will line up as critics of the model get their first look at the strength of both clubs in the altered WAFL landscape.

The contest will be Clarke's first competitive hit-out since seriously injuring his right knee at The Falls Music and Arts Festival in Victoria on New Year's Eve.

His game time will be monitored, but it is understood a strong performance against an opposition that will field at least nine Eagles, including seasoned defender Will Schofield, would push him back into calculations for Fremantle's match against Gold Coast at Patersons Stadium next Saturday.

Dockers officials would be reluctant to tinker with a Fremantle line-up that belted Collingwood by 70 points at Etihad Stadium eight days ago, but back-up ruckman Jack Hannath's quiet showing has left him vulnerable at the selection table.

Garrick Ibbotson will also play his first game of the year after recovering from the Achilles surgery that ruled him out of last year's finals series.

The recently-re-signed Docker was one of a massive 15 Fremantle players named in Peel's league side. Anthony Morabito, Clancee Pearce, Colin Sylvia and Alex Silvagni will all play.

Bond said it was good to have Clarke back out on the field after his lengthy injury absence.

"He's been able to do a fair bit of training," he said. "He's right to go. We think he's going to have some really good match-ups and be able to have a good hit-out.

"We're not looking that far ahead (to Gold Coast) to be honest. We'll manage him and see how the game goes."

Bond said the match represented an ideal chance for Fremantle's coaching panel to watch the players in action with the fixture falling on the club's weekend off.

"It's going to be a big day, big game for Peel - the first game of the year." Bond said. "We're really excited for the whole concept."

It will be the third match for Morabito in his comeback.

Nick Suban is unable to play because of an AFL suspension.

Kepler Bradley and Jon Griffin are still three weeks away from resuming following knee reconstructions last year, while Matt Taberner (hip) and Alex Pearce (shin) will also miss.

Eagles Sam Butler, Fraser McInnes, Ashley Smith, Simon Tunbridge and Adam Carter will all play for East Perth.


The West Australian

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