Hill reveals why he s flying
Hill reveals why he's flying

Stephen Hill says losing a full-time tag this season has helped release the shackles and he is adamant he can elevate his game to another level.

But the Fremantle speedster, in career-best form, said the team's midfield had let down Aaron Sandilands this year, pointing out it was not capitalising on the ruckman's silver service.

The runners are intent on turning around the trend, starting with tonight's clash with Brisbane at Patersons Stadium.

Hill, 24, is averaging 23 disposals this year - four more than his best in any of his previous five AFL seasons.

The surge in his numbers has coincided with a move by opposition teams to increasingly send their best tagger to Doig medallist Nat Fyfe or clearance king David Mundy this season, leaving Hill free to cause damage with his penetrating runs and spearing left-foot passes.

Hill said he believed he had become a more consistent player this year and being freed from a weekly tag had helped.

"That's great about our side now," Hill said. "We've got some depth in our team. We're not too sure who they're going to go to now, whether it's Fyfey or Mundy.

"Whoever does get tagged, we're just looking to make sure as a team we help them out and do what we can to make sure we get the ball in their hands and help them out all day.

"It's good to have that depth."

Hill said his efforts to win more contested ball and no longer be just an outside player were finally paying off. He is averaging 10 contested possessions a game this year, up from eight over the past two seasons.

"I've been in the system for a while now and I've learnt a few more things," Hill said.

"Ryan Crowley helps me out a lot as well. He tags the opposition players, so he gives me tips on what he finds hard. I just try and implement that."

Hill praised the influence of Sandilands this year and said it wasn't the three-times All- Australian's fault that Fremantle were frequently losing the clear-ance count.

The Dockers have won overall clearances in just one of their past five matches. They sit 13th in the league for average clearances and second last for centre clear-ances, ahead of only Melbourne, despite their wealth of big-bodied midfielders.

"He's putting it on a plate for us," Hill said of Sandilands.

"We've just got to make sure we're on the other end and doing the hard work and winning the ball. We probably haven't been the greatest at that this year, so we've just got to keep working and helping him out."

Hill and Anthony Morabito have been Fremantle's highest two draft picks since 2001 and were selected by the club just a year apart.

The former will play his 120th match against the Lions, while 22-year-old Morabito is waiting to make his AFL return after three knee reconstructions.

Hill said he felt lucky at his run with injuries in light of Morabito's football journey.

"It's been pretty tough for him, but it's good to see him playing some good footy and actually being out on the park," Hill said.

"I know I'll be really happy to see him back out, if he does chuck on the Fremantle jumper."

The West Australian

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