THERE is one notable bloke who has started joining in drills at Fremantle Oval in recent weeks. His name is Dean Solomon, a player who finally succumbed to battered knees and retired from the AFL in February after 209 gruelling games for Essendon and the Dockers.

”We all know how Dean has played the game throughout his career and his body has succumbed to that style of play,” said Fremantle’s general manager of football operations, Chris Bond, at the time.

Fremantle elevated tagger Matt de Boer from the rookie list on March 5, but Solomon’s retirement just three weeks out from the start of the season means the tough defender remains a listed Dockers player.

Now, three months later, Solomon is back kicking a Sherrin at training and, according to spies, is looking fresh for his spell.

Paul Hasleby noted as much when he interviewed Solomon for the AFL website. After some prodding from his Dockers’ teammate, Solomon revealed a desire to play a part in Fremantle’s tilt at finals action. ”I’ve been joining in a couple of training drills here and there,” Solomon said.

Asked if he would like to play again this year, he replied: ”It would be nice, but you guys have been doing all the hard work and I don’t know whether it would be the right thing for me to come back. But I’ll just keep joining in training and see what happens.”

Solomon joined Fremantle for the 2007 season after nine years at Essendon, where he was a member of the Bombers’ 2000 premiership team and played alongside Damien Hardwick and Dean Wallis in a fearsome defence.

A decade has passed since those glory days, but Solomon has notched 12 finals in his career – well ahead of any player on the Dockers’ list.

One wonders if Fremantle coach Mark Harvey will be tempted by the sight of his sole premiership player training as September draws near.

It was, after all, Harvey – an assistant coach of that 2000 Essendon premiership side – who lured Solomon to Fremantle in the first place.

Plenty in the football world have noted the role that Port Adelaide premiership player Stuart Dew played in Hawthorn’s 2008 flag. Solomon could lend similar experience to the Dockers.

Sporting Life also believes that Solomon – unlike Trent Croad of Hawthorn and Adam Hunter of West Coast – did not claim an injury compensation payout from the AFL Players’ Association. An AFL player who has his career cut short by injury is entitled to half of his final year’s salary.

Croad and Hunter are believed to have accepted six-figure sums when their careers came to an abrupt end.

One of the conditions of that payout is never playing footy again – which happens to be one of the reasons why Croad was given a little bit of quiet advice when he turned out at training for De La Salle recently – but Solomon, we are told, never applied for the payment.

Which means he could walk back out and play any time he likes.

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