They were robbed of their shot at glory last year, but Fremantle’s AFLW coach Trent Cooper doesn’t want his players to have a chip on their shoulders this season.
The Dockers loomed as the team to beat last year, posting a perfect 6-0 record during the regular season before thumping Gold Coast 80-10 in the conference B semi-final.
Their main rival – North Melbourne – sneaked over the line against Collingwood by two points in the conference A semi-final.
The season was called off a day later due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the AFL deciding not to award a premier for the season.
Fremantle and North Melbourne are again rated the teams to beat this year and Cooper said he doesn’t want his players to adopt a chip-on-the-shoulder mindset.
“I don’t know that mindset is really beneficial,” Cooper said.
“We’ve got a really resilient group who had to take on quite a few challenges in all different areas of our lives. I don’t think the chip on their shoulder is anything they’ll really play with. They just want to get going and start again.”
Cooper revealed his players were training so hard after the season was called off that he had to tell them to tone it back.
Fremantle have retained the bulk of their star squad from 2020 and forward Gemma Houghton said the playing group had moved on from last season’s disappointment.
“It was a bit of a raw emotion. But not long after that we were quick to realise it was a lot bigger than football,” Houghton said.
“It’s given us a lot of time to reflect on that and get certain priorities in order.”
The Dockers’ season gets underway this Sunday when they host the Giants at Fremantle Oval.
Both teams will observe a minute’s silence before the match to pay tribute to former Giant Jacinda Barclay, who died late last year at the age of 29.
Giants players and staff will have the number 34 on their jumpers and apparel across the season as part of an ongoing tribute.