AAP AFL

Docker Connor Blakely proves his point

By AAP Newswire

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir says midfielder Connor Blakely is here to stay after making a strong AFL return on Sunday.

Blakely was overlooked for Fremantle's first eight games of the season despite the club's long injury list and persistent calls to include him in the team.

The 24-year-old was finally given his chance on Sunday, and he shone with 23 disposals and three clearances in the club's shock 12-point win over Collingwood in Perth.

When asked whether Blakely had a point to prove and would now stay in the side, Longmuir replied: "Absolutely he's there for a bit.

"He's had a point to prove for the last 10 weeks to be honest.

"I said to him during the week that he's a better footballer now than what he was eight weeks ago without having played AFL football, and that's because of his attitude.

"His attitude to train with real purpose, his commitment to the contest, his commitment to his teammates - that prepared him for his opportunity.

"Tonight he took it. Clearly he's got some work to do in certain areas of his game, but I loved his attitude."

Longmuir also heaped praise on rising star Caleb Serong, who tallied 24 disposals and nine clearances in just his sixth AFL game.

A week earlier, Serong tallied 22 disposals and a goal while keeping Geelong's Patrick Dangerfield to 18 disposals.

"He's not your typical first-year player," Longmuir said of the 19-year-old, who stands at 179cm and weighs 81kg.

"Just with his attitude, his want to compete, his body size, his strength - he's really mixed it with our mids from day one.

"I'm just really proud of him. I think the last two weeks has shown he's got a lot of talent, and he's only going to get better."

Fremantle's 10.1 (61) to 7.7 (49) win over Collingwood was their gutsiest effort of the season.

Forward Matt Taberner stood tall with four goals, while Luke Ryan continued his outstanding season in defence.

With key defenders Joel Hamling, Griffin Logue and Alex Pearce sidelined for the season, Ryan has been forced to take on the opposition's monster forwards.

Longmuir says Ryan is in All-Australian form.

"I think he's been our most consistent player," Longmuir said.

"You just have to look at who he's played on and who he's competed against to get the enormity of the way he's gone about his footy this year.

"He's been out of his weight division a lot, and he's just competed through his positioning and his competitiveness."