Sandilands to face toughest test yet - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sandilands to face toughest test yet

By Justin Chadwick 01/05/2010 10:21:25 AM Comments (0)

Fremantle coach Mark Harvey admits it would be stupid to assume ruckman Aaron Sandilands will win most of the ruck taps in Sunday's AFL derby showdown against West Coast.

Sandilands has been a tower of strength for the Dockers this season, averaging 37.4 hit-outs per game as opposition sides regularly conceded the ruck tap to concentrate on winning the ball at ground level.

But with the Eagles boasting four-times All-Australian Dean Cox and emerging star Nic Naitanui, Harvey said Sandilands would have his hands full just trying to break even.

"Have you seen Naitanui jump or not? I'm not sure whether they'll be conceding (the ruck tap)," Harvey said.

"We just can't plan for Aaron to get the tap all the time. That would be stupidity on our behalf if we did that.

"Naitanui sometimes kicks goals out of the centre square so there's a different dimension to it, so you look at all those things.

"He's a unique player. effectively he's a ruckman but he's another player beyond that if you know what I mean.

"He's very hard to match up on for us."

Harvey even threw up the possibility of Matthew Pavlich playing on Naitanui at some stage.

"Naitanui might have to worry about Pav," Harvey said.

Fremantle enter the match as strong favourites after posting five straight derby victories under the tenure of Harvey.

The Dockers have been bolstered by the return of gun midfielder Rhys Palmer, who will play his first AFL match in more than a year after recovering from a knee injury, while 18-year-old rebounding defender Dylan Roberton will make his debut.

Harvey was confident Roberton and the club's fellow youngsters would be able to handle the occasion.

"This game is next to a final for our two teams," Harvey said.

"It's one of the more high pressured games you can play in.

"You've got to look at the personality of the player, the character of the player and judge whether he can handle it because there will be no breathing space in this game, none.

"And if their concentration labours or they are slow to make decisions then you will get found out in this derby."

The Eagles, struggling at 1-4, recalled forward Quinten Lynch, Tom Swift, Eric Mackenzie and Ben McKinley at the expense of Mitch Brown, Bradd Dalziell, Matt Spangher and Lewis Stevenson.

Pavlich has starred through the midfield and up forward this season and West Coast coach John Worsfold said the 28-year-old would be a major focus for the Eagles.

"He has massive impacts on games wherever he plays," Worsfold said.

"He's one of the real champions of the competition so he's a player we've got to try to nullify to some extent.

"He's pretty hard to beat but if we can quieten down his performance it will help us.

"I would think anyone who plays Fremantle would say Pavlich is the biggest headache."

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