Kangaroos expect fierce response from star Docker Fyfe

Two-time Brownlow medallist and Fremantle veteran Nat Fyfe is being backed to silence his critics when the Dockers take on North Melbourne.

NAT FYFE. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson is bracing his team for a fierce response from Nat Fyfe in Saturday's AFL clash with Fremantle at Optus Stadium.

Fyfe starred as a permanent forward during the pre-season, but his round-one display in last week's 15-point loss to St Kilda led to a wave of criticism.

The two-time Brownlow medallist looked lost at times on the way to gathering just nine disposals to go with his solitary behind.

Dockers coach Justin Longmuir has staunchly defended his decision to play Fyfe exclusively as a forward, saying the 31-year-old will continue on in the role.

Fyfe will be determined to put in a strong display against the Kangaroos, and Clarkson is well aware of what the star Docker is capable of producing.

"I know him a little bit from international rules. I know he's a very proud man," Clarkson told reporters on Friday.

"There's not too many who gets to the level he has done.

"He's just such a fierce competitor, and I'd expect that he'll want to make amends for a performance that was well below his best last week."

The Dockers won the inside 50m count 65-53 against the Saints, but their tall forward line barely had an impact.

Prized recruit Luke Jackson failed to take a mark on the way to 0.2 from 12 disposals, while Josh Treacy (1.0 from three disposals), Matt Taberner (1.0 from nine disposals) were also quiet.

Treacy has been axed for this week, but Longmuir is backing in the rest of the forward line to turn things around.

"With 65 inside 50s you should be kicking more goals," Longmuir said.

"I can guarantee our forward line will have a better output and we'll get some stuff right down there.

"We'll make sure we give them a better chance to succeed as well.

"It's not on the forward line, it's not on the midfield it's not on the backs. It's on us as a collective to get it right.

"It's not all doom and gloom either. We've taken the main points out of the St Kilda game, we've worked on them, and you'll see a better performance."

North Melbourne ruckman Todd Goldstein was overlooked in the season opener in favour of Tristan Xerri.

But Xerri's serious ankle injury means Goldstein will now be thrust back into the lead ruck role for the foreseeable future.

"It wasn't like he (Goldstein) was in terrible form, we just decided to go in with one ruckman rather than two," Clarkson said.

"We're so fortunate with big X going out injured that we've got Goldy in the wings there that's waiting to come in."