Freo veterans need success: Harvey
REAPPOINTED Fremantle coach Mark Harvey isn’t big on predicting the future, but there is one timeline that is driving him and his players through a resurgent period.
It has to do with senior players Matthew Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands, Luke McPharlin and Paul Hasleby and the lack of success they have experienced at Fremantle.
In a combined 733 games, the long-time servants have amassed just 14 games of finals experience, with Pavlich, Sandilands and McPharlin playing in four finals each and Hasleby just two.
At last year’s Doig Medal presentation, Harvey implored Fremantle’s old heads to help fast-track the young side’s development in an effort to experience success at the end of their own careers.
Eight months on, with his side sitting third on the AFL ladder with a 9-4 record, it appears the message has got through.
“We’ve got to make sure the older players get recognised through success,” Harvey told afl.com.au.
“They’ve been there for [the younger players] and a lot of their output has been probably to the maximum.
“The young guys then say, ‘Okay, if it’s good enough for them to be playing that way, then in what way can we contribute?’ They’ve been contributing through desire.”
To fast-track the progress of its young players, Fremantle revamped its development program at the end of last year, bringing in senior development coach Simon Lloyd to oversee the club’s first to third-year players.
With debutants Anthony Morabito, Alex Silvagni, Nat Fyfe and Dylan Roberton slipping seamlessly into the side and Michael Barlow enjoying an incredible first AFL season, Harvey said the program was working well.
“You’d have to say yes (it is a success), but the ultimate resilience of it is the long-term,” he said.
“To see guys that have been first-round picks or second-round picks, to make them firstly work, but then it’s the latter picks and the rookie picks and the development of those guys that complements everything.
“They’ve given the side excitement, but the strength of the team will be when the opposition has to worry more about the young players than they do the older players.”
Shining on the biggest stage would be the last frontier for Pavlich in a career that has included six All-Australian jumpers and five club best and fairest awards (including a further three top-three finishes).
“He needs it and we need it,” Harvey said.
“He doesn’t like talking about accolades and how people perceive him, but he’s regularly been spoken about in glowing terms by external people who pass judgment on players. It’s a huge compliment for him.”
Pavlich, McPharlin and Hasleby all turn 29 this year, while Sandilands, 27, is in the second half of his career as he approaches his 150th game.
In his message to the senior players at last year’s Doig Medal presentation, Harvey said football made no exemptions for clubs or for players.
“You must understand you guys, you’ve got to fulfil your potential, not just individually, but from a team aspect,” he said last October.
“The sooner you fast-track and instill belief in the younger players the better, because they’re going to help you to get to those ambitions that you’re looking for.
“When is it going to be to fulfil your ambitions? It’s got to be now.”