AFL SIM Matches 2023: Fremantle v Adelaide Match Simulation- Thoughts from across the country



I have lived in Melbourne nearly 12 months and it still doesn’t feel right watching my Fremantle Dockers play in WA. Even a meaningless ‘match simulation’ late in February, I can almost guarantee that I would’ve been there had I been in WA. Unfortunately I had prior engagements that were too late to cancel by the time I realized the time difference meant that the game started after 6pm and not 3pm as I read on the Dockers’ website. Well done, Josh! I was able to catch parts of the game live and rewatched it this afternoon. I think the Dockers are well poised heading into the 2023 Premiership season.


There’s a saying I find myself quoting far too often during every single season the Dockers participate in, ‘it’s the hope that kills you.’ My expectations for this season were already high but I think they are even higher now. We are genuine top four contenders. Our backline was one of the best in 2022, our midfield looks great even with the departure of David Mundy and we have added much needed help in our forward line. I think everyone was surprised that Jaegar O’Meara made his way to Freo late in last year’s trade period but I loved the move. A 29 year-old with nearly 150 games experience is a great replacement for David Mundy, if he can ever be replaced.


The starting centre square of Darcy, Serong, Brayshaw and O’Meara will be one of the best quartets in the AFL throughout this season. Mix in Will Brodie off the bench and a bloke by the name of Nat Fyfe drifting between the midfield and forward line makes us set in the centre of the field. Nathan O’Driscoll quickly became one of my favourites after his stellar 2022 and he is a notable absence for me although I don’t mind the wing pairing of James Aish and Liam Henry. Hopefully one of our young midfielders such as Matthew Johnson, Neil Erasmus or Liam Henry can cement a spot on the wing that the departure of Blake Acres left. I prefer seeing James Aish running off half back than on a wing but he is an incredibly versatile player. Maybe he will be the one to cement that spot on the wing?


Within 10 seconds, Lachie Schultz had a shot on goal. Some great off the ball work by Caleb Serong, reading the play, getting goal side and floating a kick that found Schultz. Both Serong and Schultz will have years that make the rest of the league take notice. Serong, Fremantle’s newly appointed co-vice-captain, is entering his fourth season of AFL footy and has shown flashes of the player he will become. He will take that next step this year and I believe will be in All Australian conversation come the end of the season. Schultz averaged 13.8 disposals and kicked 30 goals as well as winning the Glendinning-Allan medal in round three in his breakout season. His contribution with the ball is matched with his work off the ball, his forward pressure creates so many turnovers and stoppages that result in scores to Fremantle. He is crucial to any success the Dockers will hope to achieve in 2023.


Alex Pearce spoils the ball down to Andrew Brayshaw who finds Caleb Serong with a tidy handball who makes no mistake hitting Nat Fyfe on the chest. It brought a smile to my face watching the past, present and future leaders of the club combine in a neat little passage of play. I love the way Fyfe leads at the ball, if he can become a reliable set shot he will be the Dockers’ X-Factor this season. He is a dual Brownlow medallist and will provide bursts in the middle of the ground. When he is fit and firing, there are few players in the AFL better than him. If he can stay fit, watch out for him this year.


The addition of Luke Jackson was by far and away my favourite trade the Dockers have made since Peter Bell somehow fleeced Gold Coast for pick two, which ended up being Andy Brayshaw, for Lachie Weller. Jackson provides a great option up forward, he hits packs hard and our fleet of small forwards will feast on him, Matt Taberner and Fyfe being targets in the forward line this year. The most exciting aspect of Jackson’s game for me is his ability at ground level. It is rare we see a player that is nearly two meters tall be as clean as a midfielder at ground level. In his first ruck contest, he lost the hit out but followed it up with a beautiful handball that found Brayshaw who cleared the ball. Jackson will have many more of these moments throughout the upcoming season that will be massive for Fremantle.


In the last three periods we got to see some of the talent that will provide valuable depth and selection headaches for Justin Longmuir. Matthew Johnson, Neil Erasmus and Karl Worner impressed and will put their hands up for selection with strong performances for Peel Thunder in the WAFL this year.


Following a really good first 25 minutes, I thought the Dockers intensity dropped right off but overall, I saw some really positive signs for season 2023 and am (cautiously) optimistic.


My expectation for the Dockers this year is to make the top four and win a final. Fremantle fell agonizingly short of the top four last season, missing out on fourth spot by two points to Collingwood and pulled off a sensational comeback victory in week one of the finals against the Western Bulldogs. Barring injuries, the Dockers have the talent, culture and game plan to make a very deep run in September.


Hopefully I’m re-reading this after seeing Alex Pearce and Justin Longmuir lift the Premiership cup on the last day of September and all my calls were spot on. That being said, it is the hope that kills you.



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About Josh Coales

Josh Coales is a 20 year old studying a Bachelor of Media and Communications, majoring in Sports Journalism. Josh is a proud West Australian and Fremantle Dockers diehard.


  1. Engaging and well informed in depth take Josh.

  2. ‘it’s the hope that kills you.’ and we all die a million times each Dockers match. Well written!

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