Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has defended the form of recruit Shane Kersten, saying the former Cat deserves his spot in the side and isn’t far away from making a significant impact.
Kersten was selected to play in round one despite producing only modest results during the AFL pre-season.
The 24-year-old struggled in Sunday’s 42-point loss to Geelong at Domain Stadium, failing to register a single score from just seven disposals.
He even received a Bronx cheer from the crowd when he took a mark in the second half.
But Lyon dismissed suggestions Kersten had a poor pre-season, saying the fourth-year player was in the round-one side on merit.
“I think he’s done enough to get selected,” Lyon said after the 18.7 (115) to 10.13 (73) loss to Geelong.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but clearly I disagree and our match committee disagree (with people who say he didn’t deserve his spot), because we thought he had done enough to pick him.”
Fremantle’s forward line struggled against the Cats, and Lyon said Kersten wasn’t far off from having an impact.
“I thought he had plenty of half-opportunities that he turned into halves. If he could turn them into full, we are preaching different,” Lyon said.
“At the end of the day, that’s AFL footy. It’s like me, if we had done things a bit better maybe it would be a different press conference.
“He knows he needs to be cleaner with the ball and take those opportunities, and I think he could’ve been a good player tonight.”
Fellow forward recruit Cameron McCarthy finished with 1.5 in a topsy-turvy display.
Although high scoring was the theme of the opening round, not one single Dockers player kicked multiple goals.
“The forwards were a part of the problem, but our mids and backs probably didn’t help them,” Lyon said.
“So that probably accentuated the problem. McCarthy had a number of shots on goal and that sort of thing. I think it’s a work in progress.”
Matt Taberner booted five goals in the WAFL to put himself in the selection frame for Sunday’s clash with the Power at Adelaide Oval.
But with Lyon set stick firm with Kersten for now, Taberner will probably have to wait in the wings a while longer.
Dockers ruckman Aaron Sandilands was a dominant figure against Geelong, tallying 48 hit-outs to give Fremantle a 48-34 edge at the clearances.
But Fremantle’s sloppy skills – and some shocking turnovers – cost them dearly against a potent Cats outfit.
Lyon also took some of the blame, saying that he didn’t prepare his side to deal with some of Geelong’s “mechanisms” as well as he should have.