Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has pleaded for more protection for star midfielder Nat Fyfe in the wake of his side's 31-point loss to Hawthorn in Launceston.
The Brownlow Medallist nearly turned the game Fremantle's way during a 10-minute burst in the second term before finishing with three goals and 24 touches amid regular attention from Hawks tagger Dan Howe.
Lyon conceded his captain's treatment hadn't gone completely unnoticed by the umpires, but threatened to take the matter into his own hands should it continue.
MATCH REPORT: Hawks too tough for Freo in Launceston
"He got checked off the ball heavily, I think he got a couple of free kicks but we'd like him to be looked after more," Lyon said.
"We'll probably have to take it into our own hands really if he doesn't start getting looked after - I don't say that lightly but I've probably had enough of it.
"All teams do it [tag] - maybe in the heat of the moment I've got my red-head hat on and I'm a blue-hat thinker, I'm not sure, but sometimes you've got to protect your own. I'm pretty protective of my players, we'll see what happens."
TOP STORIES: Derrick Washington to leave Launceston Tornadoes
On a day as sunny as it was cold, a respectable UTAS Stadium crowd of 13,006 reserved its biggest cheers for two notable North-West Tasmanians.
One - Darcy from Zeehan - won the crowd's heart and $1000 by kicking a football into a giant coffee cup at three-quarter time, while the other - Devonport 31-year-old Grant Birchall - had the crowd in his palm from the six-minute mark of the first quarter when he first stepped onto the ground.
Cheered for his first touch seconds later and nearly every other possession thereon, the four-time premiership star looked to have lost nothing from his two years out of the game and amassed 21 touches and eight marks from 66 per cent game time.
Not known to speak at length on individual players, Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson reserved high praise for the 245-gamer.
MORE SPORT: Legendary goal umpire set for 600th game
"We haven't seen Birch for two years which is a long time out of footy and even prior to that he had a broken jaw and that PCL injury, he's effectively missed three years of footy," Clarkson said.
"People say 'Birchall's over 30' and 'will you make a decision on him at the end of the year?' - if he hasn't played for effectively three years we've got three years of a fresh player up our sleeve in a sense, as long as his knee can cope with the rigours of the game.
"We think we've got a fresh player now and if we can see over the next six weeks what he can do to our defence to help us rebound the ball a bit better ... there'd be a lot sides out there that would have been pleased in a sense that they've played Hawthorn without Birchall in their side the last two and a half years.
"He's a high-quality performer that played in a side that a lot of others got the credit for being outstanding footballers, and they were, but he's one within the walls of our footy club that we rate really highly and he's been a big loss to us the last couple of years."
The Hawks are still yet to reach three figures, but looked as potent as any time in 2019 with a forward line boasting the tall if inexperienced trio of Tim O'Brien, Mitch Lewis and Irishman Conor Nash.
Lewis finished with a career-high three goals, Nash gave one of his most promising showings and O'Brien provided a strong marking target around the ground.
"We had a pretty young forward line in terms of games, experience and age," Clarkson said.
"O'Brien, Nash and Mitch Lewis were our three marking forwards - it was the first time for as long as I can remember that [we've been without] Roughead, [David] Hale or [Jack] Gunston - these sorts of guys have been big parts of our side and forward structure for a long period of time.
"That's exciting, they all made important contributions at different stages of the day and made it difficult for the Fremantle defence to mark the ball which they like to do."
Do you know a junior sports star who calls Northern Tasmania home? Nominate them today.