The last thing Fremantle need is to be missing skipper Matthew Pavlich, but if they are, gun rookie Matt Taberner is ready to step into the side.
Matt Taberner has found himself in the right place at the right time, but the emerging Fremantle forward is still on edge as he attempts to hold his spot for the AFL finals.
Taberner was the round 22 nomination for the Rising Star award after tallying 22 possessions, 10 marks, six inside-50s and a goal in last week’s win over Brisbane.
The 21-year-old has put on eight kilograms since arriving at the Dockers via the rookie draft early last year, but it’s his elite running that looms as his biggest strength throughout his career.
The 198cm Victorian has just 10 AFL games to his name, but is hoping to produce a powerful performance against Port Adelaide in Perth on Saturday in order to lock down a spot in the side for the finals.
“I haven’t felt I’ve earned that yet,” said Taberner, who was a middle distance runner during his school days.
“Hopefully I can play well this weekend and see how it unfolds from there.
“We’ve still got a few other forwards who are more than capable of playing at the top level.
“I just need to keep working. Hopefully long term I can secure a spot.
“I definitely find it easier the more games I play; playing in front of big crowds and against good opposition.”
With Pavlich no certainty to return due to a quad injury, Taberner could again be thrust into the spearhead role against the Power for a match that will decide fourth spot.
Taberner was quick to sing the praises of Pavlich, who has captained Fremantle since 2007.
“He’s a great leader and he’s helped me a lot and the other developing forwards as well,” Taberner said.
“I’m really thankful for that.”