Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe admits he couldn’t help feeling jealous watching arch rivals West Coast win the 2018 AFL grand final, but he hopes it won’t be long before the Dockers are challenging for premiership glory.
The Eagles beat Collingwood by five points in an epic grand final to claim their fourth flag.
Fremantle, who entered the competition in 1995, are yet to win a premiership and have missed the finals for the past three seasons.
West Coast will start as one of the flag favourites in 2019, but the recruitment of Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb has fuelled optimism for Fremantle’s premiership hopes in the coming years.
Fyfe said it was hard watching West Coast go all the way in 2018.
“It’s a difficult space to be in. I watched on with envy with the way they prepared and played, particularly in that finals series,” Fyfe said on Monday.
“I sent a few messages to Luke Shuey and Shannon Hurn after the game congratulating them, because I’ve had a bit of stuff to do with them. Full credit to them.
“But as a cross-town rival, you do look on with a bit of jealousy, and now it’s our job as the underdogs to really try to improve as a team and get to finals next year.”
At the end of last season, Fyfe said Fremantle needed to find an identity in order to become consistently competitive.
Fyfe knows what he wants that identity to look like.
“A winning culture. That’s what all teams want,” Fyfe said.
“I think we’ve had the shopping list out the last few years with drafts and trading, and we’ve brought in an eclectic group of players from across the country.
“Now we’ve established a group, and the idea is to try to build around a Ross Lyon game plan that’s going to set us up to win some games of footy next year.”
Fremantle’s senior players returned to pre-season training on Monday, but Hogan was restricted to the sidelines while he recovers from a partial stress fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot.
Injury-prone midfielder Harley Bennell ran laps and did some ball work.
Fyfe is set to spearhead a revamped AFLX next February.
But after undergoing a clean-up of his knee during the off-season, Fyfe said he won’t be “flying” at training until at least after Christmas.