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Sandilands a fan of young Freo ruckman

By Justin Chadwick 24/03/2010 08:56:40 PM Comments (0)

Fremantle ruckman Zac Clarke may look more like a member of the Jackson Five but dual All-Australian Aaron Sandilands predicts a bright AFL future for the promising 19-year-old.

Sandilands was quick to tease Clarke about his frizzy hair-do but said the 203cm youngster had serious talent and was ready to take on a larger workload in 2010 after playing five AFL games in his debut season last year.

"Clarkey's got very funny hair, it sticks out," Sandilands laughed.

"He's one of the Jackson Five the way his hair looks.

"But the way he's improved over the summer, it shows that he's learning the game and I can't see why he won't play a fair bit this year," Sandilands said.

"He's coming along really well.

"He's got great athleticism.

"He's shown a fair bit over the summer, he's put on a bit of weight so really looking forward to him taking the next step and being able to help out."

Sandilands refused to be drawn on whether both Clarke and former Bomber Kepler Bradley could play in the same side, with the fate of both players still unknown ahead of the club's round one clash with Adelaide at Subiaco Oval on Sunday.

But Sandilands praised the 199cm Bradley for his ability to fill a variety of roles.

"His versatility is great for the side," Sandilands said.

"He can play forward, back, ruck, on the wing.

"So he's one of those players who can play in certain spots and fill the hole that we need.

"Keps is looking pretty good at the moment and hopefully he has a good year for us."

Sandilands averaged 33 hit-outs per game last season but Fremantle's injury-ravaged midfield failed to fully capitalise on the 211cm giant's dominance.

However, the return of tagger Ryan Crowley and prime midfielder Rhys Palmer from injury, plus the continued development of Stephen Hill and the emergence of prolific ball-winner Michael Barlow, has Sandilands excited about what the midfield group could achieve.

"They're still young and still learning the game," he said.

"At certain times as a midfield we are going to make mistakes but we are going to have a crack and hopefully be better off this year.

"We've had the last 12 months together now and done a lot of work over summer so really looking forward to getting out there and seeing where we're at against a good side like Adelaide.

"It will be a good test for us."

Fremantle tackle the Crows (home), Essendon (away), Geelong (home) and St Kilda (away) in a brutal start to the season but Sandilands embraced the tough draw.

"You've got to come up against the top sides at some stage and we get to come up against them early in the year," he said.

"So we are looking forward to the challenge and we will be able to gauge where we're at after those first four rounds."

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