Freo can improve without winning flag

Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich says that his side could improve on their 2013 performance without having to win a premiership to do so.

But before the club could look towards an attack on this year's flag, the Dockers needed to address their poor showing against cross town rivals West Coast in Tuesday's NAB Challenge game.

Pavlich lead a group of senior players who addressed the Dockers' poor attitude against the Eagles at Arena Joondalup.

He said that his side's 84-point smashing at the hands of the Eagles was more about the team's mental preparation for the game than it was their physical efforts.

West Coast led the Dockers by 46 points at quarter time and enjoyed the momentum of the game for most of it. Only Fremantle's five goals in the final term stopped them from suffering a 100-point hiding.

Pavlich said that it was a reminder of how far last year's runners-up still had to go before their round one, season opening clash against Collingwood at the Etihad Stadium on March 14.

"We addressed it [attitude] straight after the game as a leadership group," Pavlich said at today's Dockers season launch.

"A couple of players spoke, and certainly the coaches deal with that as well.

"We'll watch the tape and make sure we address that really quickly, because we know we're an effort-based sport. And particularly the way we play is very much about our attitude and bringing that to life on a weekly basis, and clearly we didn't do that on Tuesday.

"We're in a really big training load, so there's that physical aspect to it. But this was clearly a mental choice on Tuesday.

"It's a good reminder that if you're not switched on and ready to go, you're going to get found out pretty quickly."

Pavlich said that it was possible for the Dockers to improve in areas of deficiency in 2014 and still not win the premiership.

The Dockers fell agonisingly close to their first flag last year, losing to Hawthorn by 15 points in the Grand Final.

With that effort comes expectations for the next season. The Dockers are $3.90 second favourite to win this year's AFL flag - behind Hawthorn at $3.70. West Coast, who finished 13th last season, has come into the sixth line of betting at $13.

"Well that's [winning the premiership] the outcome," Pavlich said. "You can improve without getting success.

"The obvious outcome of improvement is going one step further. But improvement doesn't necessarily mean you get what you absolutely desire in life.

"Improvement means we become better in offence and we maintain our defence. That's one thing we've tried to work on through the pre-season.

Just because we do those things, it doesn't mean we'll actually get what we fully desire.

"That's the bad thing about sport and life sometimes - you try your absolute butt off and sometimes you fall short.

"That's what happened last year, and we're hoping to go one better."

The story Freo can improve without winning flag first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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