Fremantle look to sure up stars for future
By Kim Hagdorn
Fremantle has started discussions over new player deals with leading AFL agent Colin Young who handles up to a dozen top Dockers.
Ace small forward Hayden Ballantyne, in-form big man Kepler Bradley, veteran utility Michael Johnson and 2008 NAB Rising Star Rhys Palmer are all out of contract at the end of this season.
They have all been linked with possible lures from Greater Western Sydney Giants as the new club establishes a list for their inaugural AFL season next year.
Young met with GWS football operations general manager Graeme Allan list manager Steve Silvagni in Perth last week for discussions on some of Western Australia’s top young talent that could be targeted by the Giants.
Young also held preliminary discussions with Dockers list manager Brad Lloyd in Melbourne two weeks ago.
Young confirmed he has commenced talks with Fremantle officials on new deals for several of his Dockers.
“I have had some preliminary chats with Brad Lloyd about our players, but that’s standard practice for this time of the year,” Young said.
“These discussions would be taking place whether GWS was in the picture or not.
“It is due process for myself and the players I act for as well as the club, to handle negotiations over a period of time to make sure all parties are ultimately satisfied with the outcome.”
Injured Dockers young gun Anthony Morabito and versatile utility Jay van Berlo are also understood to be on Fremantle’s re-signing agenda, while a new agreement for popular defender Roger Hayden could be delayed until he resumes playing after a five-month injury lay-off.
Morabito, 19, is recovering from a full knee reconstruction after he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in an unfortunate summer training mishap just before Christmas.
The brilliant midfielder played 23 of a possible 24 games last year in his debut season and will not play any football at all this year but is considered a vital member of Fremantle’s long term future.
Hayden, 30, suffered broken bones in his foot during pre-season training and has not played at all this year.
The 125-game veteran resumed full training early this month with projection of a return to playing early into June.
Palmer, 22, has been the out-of-contract Docker most strongly linked with a possible move to GWS.
The Giants can recruit an uncontracted player from Fremantle as well all other AFL clubs, except for fellow newcomer Gold Coast, either this year or at the end of next season.
Bradley is expected to attract special interest after the big utility was only offered a one-year contract extension last season.
He is quite possibly leading Fremantle’s fairest-and-best voting after a stunning start to the 2011 season.
Only brilliant second-year midfielder Nat Fyfe, champion ruck giant Aaron Sandilands and possibly experienced on-baller David Mundy would be vying for Fremantle’s club champion lead with Bradley after his brilliant start to his out-of-contract season.
Bradley averages 15 possessions a game so far this season and heads Fremantle goal-kicking with 19 majors from eight games.
The 25-year-old former Essendon all-rounder has been roundly touted as a target for his former Bombers coach Kevin Sheedy, who is in charge of the Giants as they head toward an AFL entry next year.