The West

Bulldogs McGrath hints at sweet 16th
Bulldogs' McGrath hints at sweet 16th

South Fremantle's Toby McGrath has given a strong hint that he will play on for a 16th season at senior level.

McGrath, 31, will play his 233rd WAFL game when the Bulldogs host Swan Districts tonight.

He has won nearly all there is to win at WAFL level, with two premierships, one as captain, two best-and-fairest awards, and Sandover and Simpson medals.

He also spent time on rookie lists at West Coast and Essendon and has represented his State five times.

McGrath is reluctant to leave South Fremantle with their inexperienced league team struggling near the foot of the ladder, but will delay his decision until the end of the season.

Work could play a key role in his decision, with McGrath's commitment as a fireman along with a landscaping job taking up much of his time.

At McGrath's testimonial dinner last month, former coach John Todd urged him not to play on beyond his used-by date.

But the veteran, who is edging closer to Marty Atkins' 266-games club record, has held positive recent talks with Bulldogs coach Paul Hasleby.

"My decision will be based on where I'm comfortable leaving the club and what position it's in," McGrath said.

"To leave the club now with such a development phase going on, where we don't have many older players around … I would hate to think I would walk away and leave the club without some leaders.

"I've spoken to Hase about it and he was keen for me to play on next year as long as I can commit to doing the right things."

McGrath revealed a pre-game viewing of the 1997 grand final had given South Fremantle the confidence that they could come from behind to beat East Fremantle last week.

The Bulldogs trailed by 26 points early in the final quarter but kicked six of the last seven goals to snatch a remarkable win.

It was the South's third victory in a row and confirmed they would avoid their first wooden spoon in more than 40 years.

"We watched the last quarter where they (South) fought back from five goals down," McGrath said.

"East Freo kicked a goal at the start of that quarter and South came back and won.

"It (last Saturday's game) sort of went along the lines of that."

Joel Palumbo is a likely inclusion for South Fremantle against Swans after a hamstring injury forced Alex Grima out.

Adam Faulkner, Blaine Boekhorst and Dayle Garlett will return for Swans, who have lost Andrew Embley (West Coast), Lachie Neale (Fremantle), Ryan Davis (hamstring) and Murray Newman (knee).

Midvale product Aidan Smith will make his debut after starring in the reserves recently.

The West Australian

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