Fremantle recruit Peter Faulks says he never gave up hope of playing at the elite level after his first stint on an AFL list ended after just two seasons with the Sydney Swans.

Faulks, who found his way to Fremantle via trade week after being pre-listed by Gold Coast, appeared destined for the AFL scrapheap at the end of 2008 but he reignited his prospects with two excellent seasons in the VFL.

The key defender, who boasts a fierce competitive streak, speed and an elite vertical leap, said he never lost his hunger to play in the AFL.

“I had a burning passion to play at the highest level and once I was delisted I didn’t want to go back and play local footy with my mates,” the 22-year-old said.

“I learned so much in my time [with the Swans] and I think that’s just really helped me with the last two years of my football career.”

In 2009, after being cut by the Swans, Faulks formed an effective defensive duo with new Fremantle teammate Alex Silvagni at VFL club Casey Scorpions, finishing second in the club’s best-and-fairest award.

This year he played full-back for Williamstown, earning selection in the VFL team of the year and finishing third in the club’s best-and-fairest award.

He said he now boasts the mental strength, concentration and ability to play in different roles that was missing in his time with the Swans.

“My mentor in Sydney was Craig Bolton and I learnt so much from him in the time I was there,” he said.

“I honestly just don’t think I was ready for the expectations of an AFL footballer.”

Assistant coach Simon Lloyd said it was important for the club to land a key defender during the exchange period, with the club focused on securing midfielders at last week’s NAB AFL Draft.   

Young key defender Justin Monaco, who was overlooked at the draft, started training with the club on Tuesday in the hope of being selected in the rookie draft.  

“We were lucky enough that Alex Silvagni stood up last year, and obviously losing Chris Tarrant it’s been very important to us to make sure we have someone like Peter come into our organisation,” Lloyd said. “We need him to step up.”

Fremantle also secured Perth utility Tendai Mzungu and Adelaide ruckman Jon Griffin during trade week, with the 41-game former Crow excited to be continuing his AFL career in his home state and alongside Aaron Sandilands.

“Now that I’m teamed up with him it’s going to be a good learning curve for me and I’m going to learn a lot of things off him,” Griffin, a 201cm tap specialist, said.

“There’s different facets that I could add to my game, like my forward line stuff, and I can also learn a heap off Aaron as well.”

Like Faulks, Mzungu said he had never given up hope of playing at the elite level, with the 24-year-old enjoying his most consistent WAFL season in 2010 to poll 20 Sandover Medal votes and win his club’s best-and-fairest award.

He has made an early impression at the club, running second in last week’s 3km time trial. 

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