Matthew Pavlich is truly one of the AFL’s all time greats, and it’s time the public served to recognise his contribution to the game.
His six goal haul in Fremantle’s 16-point win over Geelong on Saturday night was instrumental in the Dockers reaching the second week of the finals for just the third time in their history.
Yet some remain doubtful of Pavlich’s credentials to be named amongst the best players in the modern era. In the midst of Pavlich firing home one of his six goals against the Cats, Herald Sun journalist Jon Ralph was doubting whether he should go down as a legend of the game on Twitter. Meanwhile Brian Taylor labeled him “underrated” on Channel Seven’s coverage of the match.
Some put this down to the Freo skipper playing in just seven finals since he was drafted in 2000 (only three of which have been won). Others simply say that it is because he is playing for an interstate club that does not get the same sort of media attention as Victorian clubs do.
Whatever the reason, it must be put aside to allow for Pavlich to get the credit he deserves. For someone of his calibre and consistency to be called “underrated” is simply unjust.
Standing at 192 centimeters and weighing in at 100 kilograms, Pavlich is one of the rare athletes who can cover the entire length of the field with pace and endurance, but also damage opposition teams with his aerial ability.
This was demonstrated in the elimination final where he beat Cats defender Tom Lonergan on the lead, on ground level and in one-on-one situations.
As a six-time All Australian, he’s been named at full back, full forward and on the half forward flank. He’s won a record six Fremantle Best and Fairest awards playing in defence, up forward and in the midfield.
He’s the type of player who can more than adequately cover every aspect of the field. You could make up a team of 22 Matthew Pavlich’s and rely on each and every one to do their job, and to do it well.
Something Pavlich has also done is proven himself to be a big time player. Come September, and in the few opportunities he’s had to assert himself on the biggest stage, the man has always stood up.
In Fremantle’s last four finals matches, he’s booted bags of four, three, four and then six goals on Saturday night.
His haul in the 2012 elimination final will go down as one of his best. He kicked the first two goals of the match to get the Dockers off to a flying start, before slotting another midway through the third term to steady the ship following a Geelong fightback. He limped off the field in the last term with a suspected achilles problem, only to will himself back onto the ground and nail one last sealing goal with just minutes remaining.
Pavlich will inevitably be named in the All Australian side for the seventh time in just a few weeks, and when he does he’ll become just the seventh player to do so. This surely strengthens his case to be listed with the best to play in the AFL, regardless of where he’s from or who he plays for.
With 278 games of experience and 557 goals under his belt, Pavlich’s immense talent and leadership abilities should no doubt put him amongst the Nathan Buckley’s and Matthew Lloyd’s of the modern era.