Pre-season snapshot: Fremantle
Snapshot: After a heavy running program in 2009 and a focus on strength and contested football in 2010, sports science manager Jason Weber’s third pre-season in charge appears more balanced. There has been a focus on skills and ball-movement drills from early in the piece, with the club’s draftees being carefully managed.
Medical room: The first phase of pre-season training has been cruel to Fremantle with Roger Hayden (foot) and Anthony Morabito (knee) the big casualties. Hayden will miss the first half of next season, while Morabito’s 2011 is already over after undergoing a full knee reconstruction. Michael Barlow has recently lifted his running quota and expect the young star to take bigger strides after the Christmas break.
Who’s burning: Rhys Palmer set the early pace with a winning time of 10min 35sec in the club’s opening 3km time trial. The two players he narrowly beat to the line – WAFL recruit Tendai Mzungu and promising youngster Nat Fyfe – have also impressed after working particularly hard during their time off. Fyfe has added muscle after using his junior football club’s gym while home in Lake Grace.
Draftee watch: ‘Bushy boy’ Josh Mellington, from the Murray Bushrangers, has made an early impression at Fremantle after being drafted with pick No.56 at the 2010 NAB AFL Draft. The classy forward spent his first fortnight living with Fyfe and Jay van Berlo, who passed on their knowledge on preparation, training methods and life at an AFL club.
Membership: Fremantle’s membership peaked at more than 43,000 in 2007 and the club is in a position to break that record next season on the back of a semi-final appearance in 2010. As of early December, Fremantle was approaching 30,000 members, but the club has since required AFL help to process a flood of pre-Christmas applications and renewals.
After the break: The details of a team-building camp are being finalised for early January, with the players returning from their break on January 5. Pre-season training will be split between Fremantle Oval and McGillevray Oval. Expect leaders Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands to step up on the track after low-key returns from extended breaks.
Telstra Community Camp: Fremantle combined its leadership camp and Telstra Community Camp last year, but the club will keep the two separate in 2011. Players and coaches will travel to mining town and amateur football hotspot Kalgoorlie, with junior clinics and hospital and school visits to take up most of their time from February 15-17.
NAB Cup opener: February 13 v West Coast and Hawthorn at Patersons Stadium.
What they say: “The players understand that this pre-season is all about earning the right to play – not on reputation. [The recruits] are showing some really good signs. It’s when we put them under a little bit more duress and put them into situations that are more game-related that we’ll find out a lot more about them. Probably after three months.” – Senior coach Mark Harvey