Suban signing paying dividends for Bulldogs

Saturday, September 8, 2018 - 6:09 PM by Chris Pike

NICK Suban continues to get better and better the longer 2018 goes on in his first season at South Fremantle, and having beaten Subiaco in each of the past two WAFL Grand Finals with Peel Thunder, he could be an invaluable resource for the Bulldogs this week.

South Fremantle takes on Subiaco in this Sunday's WAFL second semi-final at Leederville Oval and while the Lions haven't lost at all in 2018, Suban was part of the Peel teams the past two Grand Finals that defeated the Lions.

He will look to help provide South Fremantle with some invaluable insight into what it takes to topple Subiaco in finals football as the Bulldogs chase a first Grand Final appearance and first premiership in the WAFL since 2009.

Suban was surprisingly delisted by Fremantle at the end of 2017 to bring an end to his 156-game career with the Dockers that saw him be a mainstay of the AFL line-up the majority of his tenure including playing in the 2013 AFL Grand Final.

The fact he was delisted was somewhat a surprise considering he did play the last 10 games of the season with the Dockers at AFL level in 2017 and was still performing at a good enough level to deserve another contract.

That didn’t happen and while there was a possibility for the 28-year-old to further his AFL career interstate, but given he was settled with his wife and daughter in Perth, the prospect of upping and moving for what could only be a year or two was something he resisted.

Instead, he decided to stay in Western Australia and begin the next phase of life working full-time while playing in the WAFL and it was South Fremantle he decided to join.

Suban had been no stranger to success in the WAFL while with Fremantle as well becoming a triple premiership player having played in Claremont's flag of 2012, and then the Peel Thunder triumphs of both the past two years.

Suban brought with him great experience, leadership and pure talent and determination in 2018, and while that looked good on paper when his signing was announced, the reality of his season has gone above and beyond any expectations.

Coming off the wear and tear of almost a decade in the AFL system and given he's now played well over 200 games of senior football, Suban has shown no signs of that.

His season began with him spending most of his time at half-back but in the second half of the season he has spent the majority of his time as a midfielder and the result has been tremendous.

The last 11 games of the home and away season saw Suban average 25 possessions a game but it's work winning clearances, the contested ball, his ability to create for teammates and be a physical presence and great leader around the ball that has stood out.

Clearly with his body still sound and the form he is in, Suban is good enough to be playing in the AFL but it's to South Fremantle's gain that he's not and he was against tremendous in last Saturday's 98-point hammering of West Perth in the qualifying final at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

Suban finished with 29 possessions, six marks and five tackles for the afternoon and while he enjoyed the way the Bulldogs played, he knows it's only a step towards the path South Fremantle has set itself to achieve in 2018.

After losing in preliminary finals the past two years, the Bulldogs want to try and go two steps better this season and Suban is in a good position to know what it takes to both win premierships and to beat Subiaco in finals after the last two years with Peel.

He is looking forward to South Fremantle replicating its performance against West Perth against Subiaco on Sunday at Leederville Oval in the second semi-final with a spot in the 2018 Grand Final at Optus Stadium the reward for the winner.

"It was fantastic to get the win but obviously we've all got goals to win a flag and that's the goal of our side," Suban said.

"Obviously we've got this week and hopefully we make the Grand Final so we have bigger fish to fry and we are focused on performing again this week. 

"We have focused on training the best we can and preparing as well as we can for Subi. Hopefully we can be competitive and hopefully knock them off."

Looking back on last Saturday's 98-point qualifying final win against West Perth, it was certainly a commanding performance by South Fremantle including a run of 13 unanswered goals from midway through the second quarter to midway through the last term.

All 22 Bulldogs players made a strong contribution all over the ground and there was little for Suban to not like about the team's performance.

"The boys performed really well, we were happy with the way we went about it especially after half-time. It was a great effort," he said.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in and we really planned for it to go to the end, and looking back going into the game we planned well and the boys prepared as well as they could.

"We were just lucky that everything fell into place and the boys played well as a team. We're really happy to get away with that result."

Suban was superb against West Perth like he has been the second half of the season, and for most of 2018 so he enters Sunday's second semi-final against Subiaco in good form having been named in the WAFL Team of the Year as well in recognition of the season he's had.

But he is just looking for the rest of his South Fremantle teammates to make sure they are now overawed by challenge ahead in the form of an undefeated Subiaco as they try to book a spot in the 2018 Grand Final.

"You obviously want to play your best footy in the big games and we're now looking forward to this week against the top team. We can't wait for it," Suban said.

"If we can bring the same intensity and same effort we definitely think we're a chance. We just have to bring that again this week and do it consistently, and you never know what can happen."

While Suban might have come to accept that his time in the AFL is over, after the success of Tim Kelly going from South Fremantle into the AFL at Geelong, he sees no reason why Marlion Pickett can't do similar in 2019 on the back of his career-best season moving into the midfield.

"I think he has definitely had a great season and he's a definite chance to get picked up, and I hope that he does," he said.

"He has had such a good season and he's obviously full of talent, but he works really hard and I've been really impressed with the way he goes about it. Hopefully later in the year he can have his name read out and have a crack at the highest level."

Juggling a young family, work and football commitments has certainly had its challenges for Suban in 2018 having been a professional footballer ever since leaving high school, but he couldn’t be happier with his decision to join South Fremantle.

"It's definitely been challenging having to work and then come to footy training at night, but I'm really enjoying it," Suban said.

"They are a great bunch of guys here and the coaching group so it's been great."