Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says "it is going to be on" and "fierce" when the Dockers take on Geelong in Matthew Pavlich's 300th game at Patersons Stadium tomorrow night - and he is happy to back Hayden Ballantyne's courage to play.
Ballantyne (cheekbone) was named in Fremantle's team to face the Cats, along with defender Zac Dawson, who missed last week with an ankle injury.
Midfielder Stephen Hill, an early casualty against Port Adelaide with a calf problem, was also selected. The Dockers dropped Clancee Pearce and Hayden Crozier and could not consider Luke McPharlin (quad).
Geelong, who head west fresh after having a bye last weekend, made two changes.
They recalled veteran defender Andrew Mackie and handed Jed Bews, son of former Geelong captain Andrew, his debut.
Mathew Stokes (suspended) and George Burbury (groin) couldn't be considered.
Lyon said much of the controversy over the building rivalry with Geelong was "theatre", but he confirmed the likely fierce nature of the game and said Ballantyne would not play if the club deemed it an unacceptable risk.
"They have been significant games," he said of the club's last four matches against the Cats for three wins, including two finals.
"When you are playing in finals and you come up against them it is significant. What makes a rivalry, I am not too sure. But they have been the team of the decade along maybe with Hawthorn.
"They are a benchmark so people have been coming at them and challenging them.
"They don't give up the four points very easily. To go down there and win is significant, to go to the MCG and win is significant from our end, but it all means nothing. But it is fierce. It is going to be on. It is exciting."
Minor surgery on Ballantyne this week was to push his cheekbone back out, Lyon said.
"Our overriding philosophy is that if we have got a player at significant risk it wouldn't occur," he said of playing Ballantyne, who may wear a helmet.
"Any decision that is still to be made will be based on that philosophy of player wellbeing and what is best for the team.
"We are not going to pick people that can't go in and win the ball and chase and tackle.
"Hayden actually came back on to the ground (last weekend) and played and was in some fierce contests so he has just got a bit of swelling.
"It is a really minor procedure and it is a bit about comfortability. This is just a slight fracture where they push out the cheekbone.
"Hayden wants to play, I would like him to play. If he feels good he will play so there is a good chance that he will play. He is a brave player.
"Plenty of players play under duress and still perform."
Lyon indicated there was no panic at Fremantle despite the 4-4 start to the season which has them eighth on the ladder.
"We have lost a few, but we have played some pretty good football. We're just searching for a bit more consistency so our incumbents are in pretty good shape," he said.
"It is not like we are going down by 10 goals. We are in front at three-quarter time against North Melbourne, we are in front at three-quarter time against Port Adelaide and we went down by 17 points against the Swans.
"We are there or thereabouts, we are just searching for consistency of execution of what we are after. There are not going be mass changes here."
Lyon said the loss to Port and a last-quarter fadeout was a combination of defensive 50 and centre-square issues.
"Sometimes it is lack of adherence to what we want and sometimes the opposition do a couple of things," he said.
"It (the last quarter against Port) was a combination of both. We have identified it and we have had a solid review as we always do.
"It doesn't change too much, but we are certainly focusing more on ourselves than the opposition, particularly this week.
"Our clearance work is in the top four in the competition.
"For and against, if you measure it on scores, we feel pretty comfortable with that.
"Our defensive 50 has been what has hurt us a little bit, but it has typically been a strength.
"It is easy to identify what goes on, but each week it has been slightly different. "