2023 Defence Ratings: Fremantle
Points Against (Brennan Jakovich Shield): 1486 - 2nd
Inside 50's Against Per Goal: 5.15 - 1st
Scarlett Silvagni Medal Votes: 65 - 2nd
Keys: Brennan Cox, Hugh Davies, Joel Hamling, Alex Pearce
General: Heath Chapman, Jordan Clark, Luke Ryan, Corey Wagner, Brandon Walker, Nathan Wilson, Hayden Young
Out: Griffin Logue (North Melbourne)
Fremantle pulled off a remarkable turnaround in 2022 to become not only a top-four contender, but one of the best, if not the best backline in the AFL.
Best at preventing inside 50s conceded from turning into goals, and just three points shy of the least points against for the season, Fremantle's defence was a stone wall.
The improvement came in the form of now-captain Alex Pearce staying fit for a full season just the second time in his career allowing Luke Ryan and Brennan Cox to grow into their roles with more confidence and freedom, along with Young, Chapman and Clark providing youth and excitement out of the back 50.
Arguably the defensive highlight of the season came in round one, when Heath Chapman spoiled the ball back into play right on the goalline to save the game for Fremantle, and their confidence only grew from there as the season went on.
Where will improvement come in 2023? It's hard to see Fremantle's backline performing much better, but Hayden Young is sure to improve in his fourth year in the system, Brennan Cox looked ready to take the game by storm in the pre-season games, and Alex Pearce has always looked leadership material.
In previous years, the loss of a defender as talented as Griffin Logue would leave a massive hole, but so strong were Fremantle that he was forced to play as a forward for much of the year.
The real improvement may need to come up the ground, with Fremantle's forwardline not being able to convert with the same ruthlessness as their backline can defend, and the midfield ball movement being altogether too conservative at times, losing them games.
Whether Fremantle will be able to challenge the top four again in 2023, with a more challenging draw remains to be seen, but injuries permitting, we expect their backline to remain one of the best in the competition, and challenge for another Brennan Jakovich Sheild.
Back Pocket Rating: A