- from afl.com.au
THE PERFORMANCE of Fremantle veterans Matthew Pavlich and Luke McPharlin on Sunday night showed they are far from a spent force, according to coach Ross Lyon.
Pavlich starred with four goals and McPharlin stood tall in defence to help the Dockers beat Port Adelaide by seven points in a brutal round one encounter at Domain Stadium.
Lyon said the endless questions about the pair's possible retirement does not bother either player.
"You can write whatever you like," he said.
"It doesn't really interest me that much. Not being disrespectful but I've heard plenty of things written, who's going to win the premiership, who is retiring.
"But they'll write their own story and they've been written off before and written up before.
"It's not that they don't care but they've written their own story for a long time and they'll continue to do it.
"I don't want to speak for them.
"I think they're just enjoying their footy.
"We're using Matthew smarter, and I think that's evidenced tonight."
Lyon praised his leadership group for standing tall late in the game.
David Mundy gathered 13 possessions and five clearances in the last quarter when the game was in the balance, while Nat Fyfe finished the match with 31 touches and Aaron Sandilands dominated in the ruck.
"It's all about character and competence," Lyon said.
"Your leaders have got to lead and I thought all the six in there, like Sandilands and Fyfe and Pavlich - I thought he was superb - and McPharlin and (Lee) Spurr, with Mundy, they all stood up.
"That's what good teams expect their leaders to do."
Lyon was pleased his side got through the brutal clash unscathed. Chris Mayne had a slight ankle problem and was subbed out but the Dockers had no injuries to report post-match.
The coach was also pleased that the hard work his players had been through over the summer paid off against one of the fittest teams in the competition.
"It sort of firms it up," Lyon said.
"We knew we'd done more work (this summer).
"But at the end of the day the players have got to bring it out within themselves.
"You can possess it but to bring it out under the heat of quality and when it's going to the wire is pretty important.
"It's not easy to do but we did that. So we take that away as well, we're mentally up and going."
The Dockers face the Cats in Geelong next Sunday before returning home for a Western Derby in round three and a clash with the Sydney Swans in round four.
Lyon said having a tough first month is the perfect preparation.
"It will bring you to a hard edge," he said.
"You want to play in those games, and you want to see how you go."