FREMANTLE has departed for the unknown, with a relatively young squad to tackle Port Adelaide and Geelong in the debut of AFLX at Hindmarsh Stadium on Thursday.
The Dockers will battle the Power and the Cats for a grand final berth against either Adelaide, Collingwood or West Coast.
AFLX will be played on a rectangular field about 100m long and 60m wide.
Other changes from traditional football include having just seven players on the field at any one time and goals kicked on the full from outside the 40m arcs being worth 10 points.
Fremantle assistant coach Anthony Rock believed it would suit players who are fit and quick.
“We’re about to experience the unexpected,” he said.
“Maybe post games and post the whole format we can have a better idea of what to expect but it’s a version of mini footy.
“Most clubs play that and that’s a part of our pre-season process, to get ourselves fit and get ready for JTL (Community Series) and round 1.”
Rock said the squad, which includes Fremantle’s top draft pick Andrew Brayshaw and more experienced campaigners Danyle Pearce, Bradley Hill and Michael Walters, could use the tournament as a base for the rest of the year.
“There’s a lot of competition for spots,” he said.
“The mature and experienced players, they’re going to want to perform (and) they’re going to want to be fit because they know they’ve got some talent underneath that has had a really strong pre-season, fitted in really well, got great character and great leadership.
“So that puts everyone on notice and that’s exciting for our fans and exciting for the club.”
On Tuesday, skipper Nat Fyfe was withdrawn from the travelling party and replaced by Tom North.
Rock said Fyfe’s workload was being managed.
“It’s in his best interest and our best interest to manage his load and that’s what the strength and conditioning department came up with,” he said.
He said he would be right for the JLT series, with the Dockers taking on Adelaide on February 25.
Fremantle’s AFLX squad: Griffin Logue, Brandon Matera, Danyle Pearce, Andrew Brayshaw, Bradley Hill, Michael Walters, Tommy Sheridan, Mitchell Crowden, Darcy Tucker, Connor Blakely, Cam McCarthy, Tom North, Ed Langdon, Brady Grey, Cam Sutcliffe, Brennan Cox, Luke Ryan, Bailey Banfield, Stefan Giro, Taylin Duman.
AFLX in Adelaide on Thursday (times are AWST)
Port vs Geelong (Pool B): 3.40pm
Adelaide vs Collingwood (Pool A): 4.08pm
Geelong vs Fremantle (Pool B): 4.36pm
West Coast vs Adelaide (Pool B): 5.04pm
Fremantle vs Port (Pool A): 5.32pm
Collingwood vs West Coast (Pool B): 6pm
Winner Pool A vs Winner of Pool B: 6.33pm