FREDDIE Clutterbuck has continued to emerge as one of the hardest running and most damaging players in the competition in his second full season of league football, but right now his sole focus remains on helping East Perth into the 2012 finals.
East Perth had a good win in its last up game before last week's bye against Perth winning by 37 points and now with that still fresh in their minds, Clutterbuck is confident the Royals can get the job done again this Saturday at Medibank Stadium to remain firmly entrenched in the top-four.
"We knew Perth was going to come out strong and they did. We had to weather the storm in the first quarter and eventually we started playing some good efficient footy in the second and third quarters, and managed to get on top and hold on in the end. It was good to get a win," Clutterbuck said.
"The fixtures are a bit weird and we won't need to have long memories to remember what happened last week. Obviously we are looking forward to playing Perth again and hopefully after winning last week we don’t have to change too much to get another win."
Clutterbuck continued his outstanding season with 34 possessions in that last game against Perth and as a wingman he certainly enjoys the wide-open spaces of Brownes Stadium, but is also looking to follow the example set by Craig Wulff to spend more time on the ball.
"I like playing out at Perth there, it's a nice spacious ground, and it suits our running style so I was lucky enough to get a few cheapies as my teammates would say. I was happy with that," he said.
"I've been going into the midfield a little bit more this year and when I started I was a bit young and small, but I've really enjoyed going on the ball a bit more. Craig Wulff has gone from a wing into there and is a sensational player, so if I can be anything like him I will be going all right. I'm obviously not as hard as him just yet, but I would enjoy the opportunity to do that in the future."
Clutterbuck made his debut back in 2010 and now is in his second straight full season of league football, and certainly emerged as one of the hardest running and working players in the competition.
That has seen him average almost 25 possessions a game in 2012 and even though he's played just 43 games now, he does feel like a leader amongst an increasingly young East Perth line-up.
"My game has probably developed athletically. I've gotten a bit bigger and stronger, and fitter as well so I can run games out a lot better and the experience of league footy has helped me a lot. I've learned a lot off guys at our club like Craig Wulff and he's taught me a lot about playing on the wing, and getting in the right positions," he said.
"I do feel like a bit of a leader. There's a big gap between our older players and younger ones. We have Swanny and Wulffy around the 30 mark and Mat Seal is about 25, but apart from that everyone is early 20s or younger. All us 20 or 21-year-old's have played a lot of footy together, though, in the colts and reserves so we are a tight group and we have a few leaders amongst us. We all have the common goal and it's good down there."
Having seen teammates Brendan Lee, Nathan Blee and Ben Stratton get picked up as mature-aged recruits in recent seasons by AFL clubs, Clutterbuck deserves to come under close attention as well but that's the furthest thing from his mind right now.
"It's not at the forefront of my mind, but it's always there and you get asked about it quite a bit. If it was to happen, it would be fantastic but it's not something I think too much about," Clutterbuck said.
"I couldn’t be playing for a better club than East Perth anyway and I'm very happy there. If the chance did come, I would grab it with both hands though."
East Perth welcomed back important defenders Kyle Anderson and Nick Kommer for the win over Perth and Clutterbuck has no doubt both are crucial members of the Royals side.
"Kyle is magnificent down there and is a real leader. He's extremely hard to get a kick on and he's amazing with the stuff he does," Clutterbuck said.
"A lot of it goes unnoticed and Nick Kommer adds some real hardness to our side. He's very flexible because he can play forward, back or midfield and it was good to have him back. He was back to his old tricks and helped us get over the line."
East Perth's big advantage this season has been in their big men department. Paul Johnson has been outstanding in the ruck and is likely the Sandover Medal favourite while Tim Martin has offered him some good support as has Fremantle's Zac Clarke especially a fortnight ago against Perth.
"Paul and Zac giving us first use are great and they are so mobile around the ground. They get so many possessions and work so well together. They give us a huge advantage there and they are two of the best ruckmen in the comp so we would do a lot worse having those two playing each week," he said.
"I think he was a bit down on confidence Zac, but he was a lot better last week. He was attacking the footy, took a few grabs and kicked a couple of goals. We need him to play one more game to qualify him for finals and that would be extremely handy for us."
Another player who could come in over the last part of the season and provide something is Dean Cadwallader.
After his two-year suspension has now been served, Cadwallader has returned to play some good reserves football and Clutterbuck would welcome him back in the reserves side too if selected.
"He brings a bit to our club and he's good both on and off the field. He has been playing good footy in the reserves and is a half-forward/wing type. He has a lot of pace, which people say we lack in our midfield, so he could be a very important player come finals time," Clutterbuck said.
"It's good to see him back and getting a kick. He is very well liked and is a very quiet sort of a bloke. He's a hard worker and it's good to see him back. He did a lot of training by himself during the two years off so it's good to have him back. It has been a bit of a lift getting him back and the reserves blokes love having him there."