“So it’s really nice to get a compliment, we all want one, we’re all evolving … I’m evolving, and Nathan’s really evolving in his leadership, really growing and maturing so … it’s a tough business this, I’ll take any bouquet that’s thrown my way.”
Lyon was realistic when asked if he expected goals to rain in Sunday afternoon’s clash with the Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.
“We always aim to score, you always aim to score but, 140 points, it’s a bit extreme isn’t it?” he said.
“So I think it’s unrealistic to think we’re going to score 140 points every week. The aim is … we restricted North really well, as Wayne Carey said it was really built on Fremantle’s one wood, which is contested possession and pressure.
“You don’t score unless you get the ball back off the opposition and that’s what we did really well. There’s different challenges in the AFL so … sometimes things just happen.”
Lyon said Gold Coast would be hungry to bounce back from a heartbreaking one-point loss against his old side St Kilda but wouldn’t be drawn on Fremantle’s make-up for the clash.
“I asked my players yesterday ‘what do you know about Gold Coast’ and they said ‘we know they went to the end and they’re a really tough opponent’ and outside of that they didn’t know much more and neither did I,” Lyon said.
I thought it was very courageous of him to come in … there were 20 cameras focused on a young man that had a wellbeing issue … that just compounded the situation.
– Ross Lyon on Jesse Hogan
“I said ‘by the time that ball’s bounced we’ll know them inside out’ and we would’ve picked a team to reflect the challenge.
“Mick Malthouse always used to [say] pick a team for your next opposition, you don’t automatically just roll on for the 22 … it’s really important that we pick a well-balanced team.
“[So] you’ve got me at a disadvantage, we’re just doing our first training session. The beauty of the game and the supporters is everyone tries to figure it out without me having to lay it out … so I don’t have any answers for you. I’m going into [a] medical [meeting] after this and hopefully I’ll get some updates.”
Star forward recruit Jesse Hogan, who missed round one due to complications from mental health issues, was also a chance to play his first game in purple.
“From my end, I’m in the hands of the experts … and it is clearly a medical wellbeing issue,” Lyon said.
“Jesse trained physically last week, I thought it was very courageous of him to come in … there were 20 cameras focused on a young man that had a wellbeing issue … that just compounded the situation.
“Sometimes people look for conspiracy when all there are are some simple errors, so Jesse will be training out there, the cameras will be on him again, it’s going to be Jesse communicating with our doctors and our psychologist and they’ll map out the plan.”
The coach wouldn’t be drawn on where dynamic forward-mid Michael Walters would be played against the Suns after the 28-year-old’s blistering 19-possession, three-goal effort on Sunday.
“He had a limited pre-season Michael so he’s trained on … he’s been a wonderful player for a long period of time … he’s a great story, he continues to evolve and he suits the modern game so that’s really pleasing,” Lyon said.
“I’d like three of him … one high forward, one low forward, one in the midfield … he’s a class act, he’s an inspiration, he’s an inspiration to me, he’s always sending texts, we’re always talking, he stays close, he’s a real leader.
“But like everyone, we’re really onto the Gold Coast. The team got it done on the weekend, not one player.
“Everyone talks about tactics and strategies getting it done but it was about the team dynamic and effort that got it done on the weekend.”
The Dockers last met Gold Coast at Optus Stadium in round three last year for a 28-point victory after the Suns had won their first two matches under new coach Stuart Dew.
Gold Coast had sold its round three home match to Fremantle because of a clash with the Commonwealth Games but it was the Dockers who cashed in, with superstar Nat Fyfe continuing his incredible form against the Suns, amassing 38 disposals, 14 clearances, eight tackles and two goals in the win.
The Suns have spent the pre-season saying they want to improve their performances at home for their fans but the Dockers will be eager to push on after the impressive showing at home and validate it with a bold performance on the road.
“The prize will be the same once the ball is bounced on the weekend on the Gold Coast. We haven’t travelled as well for the past few years but when you’re a mentally strong team, you respond to the challenge,” Lyon said.
“We felt that even when we were well on top on the scoreboard, we kept giving supreme effort and that’s what we really like.
“We’re using no excuses, so we understand that we’re in for a tough game.”
David writes about sports and lifestyle for WAtoday.