GWS no threat to Freo: Bond
Fremantle is confident that after years of planning for the introduction of two new AFL teams it can escape without losing a single uncontracted player to Gold Coast or Greater Western Sydney.
Midfielder Rhys Palmer is the latest young player to be linked to GWS, with the 2008 NAB AFL Rising Star denying suggestions last week that he had signed a four-year deal with the fledgling club.
Football manager Chris Bond said Fremantle had been planning extensively for the introduction of both new franchises and he was comfortable with where the club sat in the changing AFL landscape.
“In regard to … not only our young players but our leaders as well, we’ve got a history of making sure they’re going to stay at this football club for a long period of time,” Bond said from Fremantle Oval on Monday.
“We started planning a couple of years ago with this, so we’re very comfortable with where we sit with regards to GWS and Gold Coast coming into the competition.
“We’ve put a lot of years in practice to make sure that we’re going to be in a position to make sure it doesn’t hurt our club. Some clubs are going to lose players and we just want to make sure that it’s not our club.”
Fremantle, which re-signed captain Matthew Pavlich and key midfielder David Mundy to four-season deals late last year, didn’t lose a single player to Gold Coast at the end of 2010.
GWS will have similar concessions and the ability to recruit one uncontracted player from each club at the end of this season, but Bond was hopeful Palmer would remain with Fremantle.
“Rhys Palmer’s somebody that we want to have a long career at this football club,” Bond said. “He’s a young midfield player that’s very important to our playing group.
“We’ve gone through it with Gold Coast and we’ll go through it with GWS.
“We’ve all known as football clubs what was going to happen and it’s up to the individual clubs to make sure that they’re prepared for it.”
Fremantle will launch its season against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Saturday night after a pre-season that has left the club with a host of key players unavailable.
Anthony Morabito (knee), Garrick Ibbotson (ankle), Matt de Boer (hamstring) and Tendai Mzungu (knee) are unavailable after suffering pre-season injuries, while Michael Barlow (leg) and Roger Hayden (foot) remain sidelined.
Bond said the club would not dwell on the injuries this week.
“In regards to the pre-season, people will say it’s had its ups and downs, [but] we’ve been really pleased with the work the boys have been able to put into it,” he said. “We want to be very competitive from the start of the year.”
Bond said crucial midfielders Mundy and Stephen Hill would be primed for Saturday night after their interrupted pre-seasons were capped off with two weeks of match simulation training.
“We’re confident that they’re going to be able to handle the first game up in Brisbane well – they’re not going to have any excuses,” he said.
“We’ve done the best we can with them and we’re pretty pleased with the outcome going into the first game.”
Fremantle, which last week named Nick Lower as its nominated rookie for the 2011 season, has placed both Roger Hayden and Anthony Morabito on its long-term injury list.
However, Bond said the club would take its time selecting rookies to elevate.