Dockers ready to stand their ground

Fremantle will be forced to spread the load in defence to cover the loss of Michael Johnson in Saturday's qualifying final, and Tendai Mzungu says he'll be happy to stand in front of Sydney's forward line monsters if that's what his team needs him to do.

The Dockers are unlikely to make many changes for their clash with the Swans at ANZ Stadium, with Alex Silvagni a straight swap for Johnson, who underwent surgery on a back problem earlier this week, and Nick Suban or Hayden Crozier likely to make way for the returning Nat Fyfe.

With Johnson out for the finals series and fellow All-Australian defender Luke McPharlin (calf) at least a week away from returning, the Dockers will have to be creative in tackling a Swans forward line boasting Lance Franklin (198cm), Kurt Tippett (201cm), Sam Reid (196cm) and Adam Goodes (191cm).


Garrick Ibbotson (186cm) and Paul Duffield (188cm) have both been asked to play tall in the past, but employing a loose man to clog space and wear contact is also a tactic which coach Ross Lyon is likely to turn to.

Mzungu (182cm), who has spent plenty of time in defence this season, said he was happy to take the hits if it helped his team win and he would expect the same from any Dockers player.

"It just comes with the territory," he said. "You just go when it's your turn.

"That's been a strength of the group.

"No doubt I'll be put in that position, and I'm happy to do that all the time for the boys."

With a depleted defence, the Dockers will be aiming to win the ball in the midfield and get it going their way.

However, it's a task made more difficult by the form of the Swans on-ballers.

The Dockers will regain the services of Fyfe, who returns from a two-week suspension, but have to counter the likes of Josh Kennedy, who is one of the best contested ball-getting midfielders in the competition.

"They're a super, hard-running team. They work up and down. It's not just one way," Mzungu said.

"They're a two-way team, and also around clearances they're led by Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker, they're a clearance king.

"We're going to have to be really strong in that area. It's won and lost in the midfield, so that will be our aim on the weekend."

·Sydney could play their next final at the SCG because of the abundance of local teams in the NRL play-offs.

The Swans have an agreement to play finals at ANZ Stadium but with up to six Sydney NRL teams in the frame to play finals, there could be clashes.

Regular rugby league is not played at the SCG.

"No doubt I'll be put in that position, and I'm happy to do that all the time for the boys."" *Tendai Mzungu *on taking physical hits

The West Australian

Popular videos

Our Picks

Follow Us

More from The West