Why the time difference helped Freo prepare for finals

FOR ONCE, the time difference in the west worked in Fremantle's favour.

As AFLW teams in Victoria finished up their training sessions on Wednesday night, some like Collingwood headed home thinking their season was over due to confusion over the fast-tracked finals series.

Not so the Dockers. By the time the final call was made, they were about to hit the track.

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"The only advantage of being over here in Perth is that we're three hours behind, so I think when the announcement happened, most teams were either halfway through training or had almost finished, while we hadn't even started yet," Fremantle skipper Kara Antonio said.

"To have a bit more of an understanding of number one, that we were playing, and number two, that we thought it would be a three-week finals series – and doing some quick calculations as 'Coops' (coach Trent Cooper) did – we had a little bit of an understanding of who we may be playing. 

"I think the number one thing for us when the announcement came out was that we were playing football. We were in pretty privileged position, going undefeated and finishing top of our conference, so whatever the outcome was, we hoped we were playing this weekend. 

"It didn't change training at all, it probably gave a bit more energy to the group knowing we were actually pulling on the boots and running around this weekend."

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Fremantle will be hot favourites on Saturday afternoon, hosting Gold Coast on Fremantle Oval. The last time the Dockers lost at home was 2018.

"It doesn't really matter where you finish on the ladder, because every final is an elimination," Antonio said.

"So the reality is, we could be knocked out on the weekend, as could North Melbourne, and we both finished top of our conferences.

"I think for fans, it makes it pretty exciting, and for players, it's a do-or-die game, just like pretty much any other game was throughout the season to secure a top-one or top-two spot for finals.

"It will be interesting, I'm really excited to play this weekend, obviously I missed out on our first final last year (with a knee injury), so I'm pumped and I'm ready to lead the girls out this weekend."

Exciting forward Roxy Roux was rested for last week's win over the Western Bulldogs, and Cooper is faced with a selection quandary in trying to fit the young star back into the team.

"I'm glad I'm not Trent Cooper right now, that's for sure," Antonio said.

"He's got a really tough decision and it puts into perspective why we've been so successful, anyone who's come in has played really, really well. It makes is difficult for anyone to get omitted from the side.

"Roxy's been fantastic, she's trained the last two weeks and hopefully will get her opportunity to play in her first final.

"Who goes out, I'm not too sure, I'll leave that up to Coops, but it's a great problem to have at our club and it's what builds strong cultures."

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