‘Pitt can play AFL footy next year’ – Dockers coach Mark Harvey
Mark Harvey is refusing to be bound by conventional opinion that says Fremantle’s raw top draft pick Jayden Pitt isn’t capable of playing AFL football next season.
Despite Pitt’s junior coaches saying the slender 18-year-old doesn’t have the body for the rigours of AFL football next year, Harvey pledged to throw him into the deep end during the pre-season and decide for himself.
Pitt, a 189cm utility taken by the Dockers at pick 20 in Thursday’s national draft, weighs just 72kg. While praising his tremendous skills, his former coaches in Victoria believe he needs to develop for an extended period in the WAFL.
But Harvey has been rewarded for showing remarkable faith in his youngsters over the past two seasons.
Stephen Hill weighed less than Pitt when he came to the club two years ago and managed to play all 22 games in his debut campaign in 2009.
Nat Fyfe also appeared under-prepared but was a significant contributor in his 18 games in his debut season this year after a show of faith from Harvey.
The Fremantle coach, who compared Pitt with Fyfe, said Pitt was capable of developing rapidly over the summer.
“We’ll learn a lot about him in the next three months over pre-season, and practice games, as well and NAB Cup and those sort of things,” Harvey said.
“So you never know. They can surprise you in how quickly they can finish up playing senior football.
“We’re not frightened to play younger players if we think they’re ready, so hopefully he can add to the young side that we’ve got.”
Harvey said Pitt could eventually put on another 10-15kg.
“I think most kids are skinny, you know,” he said.
“Rarely do you get them ready-made from a physical point of view, so we’ll just back our strength guys, who are doing a good job with the younger players that we’ve got over the past three years.”
Pitt, an under-18 All-Australian who played for Vic Country and the Geelong Falcons, was rated by Dockers recruiters as the best kick on both sides of his body in the draft.
He said he was not putting any pressure on himself to play senior football next season.
“It’s good that Fremantle have a lot of belief in their young players, but I’m not expecting much in my first year,” Pitt said. “
Just develop the body and put a bit of weight on would be the go.”