Freo offers delisted pair a chance
Delisted Fremantle players Tim Ruffles and Ben Bucovaz have been guaranteed AFL lifelines, with the club promising to re-draft them at next month’s NAB AFL Rookie Draft.
Ruffles and Bucovaz, who each spent two seasons on Fremantle’s senior list before being cut in October, will fill two of the club’s four vacant rookie spots if they are still available at the December 7 draft.
Delisted midfielder Brock O’Brien, who has endured a long string of injuries, is also being considered for a rookie spot, but coach Mark Harvey said the club was waiting to see how his body stands up through the early stages of pre-season training.
The coach said O’Brien, who played three games for the club in four seasons, had enjoyed an uninterrupted start to the summer program while Bucovaz had been particularly impressive.
“He’s presented like he’s ready to put his best foot forward … and he’s in his third year, so he understands that he has to assert himself,” Harvey said of Bucovaz.
“He had two operations over his first pre-season and naturally didn’t get a good go at the last one as well.”
Young key defender Justin Monaco, who was surprisingly overlooked in the national draft, has started training with Fremantle, while the club hopes to secure former Collingwood forward John Anthony in the pre-season draft.
Harvey said Fremantle would target players capable of pushing for senior football in 2011 with its remaining two rookie list selections.
“The strategy will be to fill the need for position … and who we think can possibly put their hand up for getting on the list in season 2011,” Harvey said.
“We’ve got a number of guys training with us at the moment. We had pretty good success with that type of thing last year when we got (Alex) Silvagni.”
Fremantle’s newest draftees began pre-season training this week, with some of the club’s senior players to return over the next week.
Harvey declared midfielder Rhys Palmer the standout performer in pre-season training so far after the 21-year-old blitzed the club’s first 3km time trial last week.
“He would be the front-runner in pre-season at this particular stage, which is a testament of where he was two years ago,” Harvey said.
“If he goes back and has a look at a form guide, I think he’s fairly astute at knowing that he played his best football when he had his best pre-season.
“All the cobwebs are gone and he’s got a chance to reassert himself in the midfield.”