Fremantle hope their tight-knit “brotherhood” will help them overcome the losses of star duo Rory Lobb and Alex Pearce in their bid to make the finals.
The Dockers’ brave four-point win over Collingwood was soured somewhat when it was revealed both Pearce (fractured ankle) and Lobb (foot) had suffered serious injuries.
Pearce has already been ruled out for the rest of the season.
No timeline has been set for Lobb’s return, but the ruckman could also miss the rest of the year after scans showed he had suffered a stress fracture in the fourth metatarsal of his right foot.
The injuries come on top of Matt Taberner’s season-ending foot stress fracture, meaning Fremantle will now be without their best defender, ruckman, and forward.
Lobb has been a revelation in the ruck this season, and is set to be replaced by Sean Darcy for Saturday’s clash with Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium.
Pearce, who was in All-Australian form, is expected to be replaced by Griffin Logue.
The Dockers sit in ninth spot with a 6-5 record, and will need to win at least six of their remaining 11 games to reach the finals.
Midfielder Reece Conca has been impressed by how close the player group have become over the past seven months since he crossed from Richmond.
He expects the tight bond between players will hold them in good stead as the team attempts to cover for the loss of their key stars.
“It’s a next-man-in mentality,” Conca said.
“We’ve got a great, tight-knit group. We’re really enjoying being at the club and playing football together. That’s a really important piece for us.
“Since I got here in November to now, I feel like as a brotherhood we’ve come a long way.
“We’ve built some really strong relationships off the field, and even on the field we are really playing for each other.”
Fremantle are set to be bolstered by the return of Stephen Hill and Harley Bennell over the coming weeks.
Bennell has starred in two WAFL games since recovering from persistent calf issues.
Hill, who hasn’t played since round 20 last year because of quad issues, is back in full training and could return to WAFL duties this weekend.
“They’re both exceptional players,” Conca said.
“I’ll be over the moon if we can have those guys back running around.”
The spate of lower leg injuries has led Fremantle to investigate the club’s training and medical assessment protocols.
But it has been relatively smooth sailing so far for Conca, who battled foot and ankle issues during his time at Richmond.