The playing future of Fremantle midfielder Rhys Palmer could go on the line within two months after a fresh round of speculation linking him to Greater Western Sydney yesterday, sparking a sharp retort from his coach and manager and an apology from the speculator.

Powerful manager Paul Connors sparked the fresh rumour on a Melbourne-based newspaper’s website, declaring he would bet money on Palmer joining GWS.

Dockers coach Mark Harvey and Palmer’s manager Colin Young hit back, but Young also said that Fremantle and Palmer had mutually agreed to put talks on hold for “6-8 weeks”, when a clearer picture of Palmer’s place in the midfield might have emerged.

Connors, who is also fielding a mammoth GWS offer for young Western Bulldogs star Callan Ward which he yesterday admitted was likely to be $300,000-a-year more than could be earned at the Dogs, was commenting on the dearth of firm names linked to GWS when he named Palmer as a likely candidate.

“Taylor Walker for mine is going, Rhys Palmer is another I would put a little bit of money on going,” he told the website.

Harvey queried why Connors was commenting on a player who was “not in his domain”.

“I find that interesting that Paul is not his manager and he is saying that. I find that really compromises their workforce, I reckon, when they say things like that,” he said.

Palmer was subbed into Fremantle’s losing match against Hawthorn last Sunday with just 18 minutes remaining. Harvey said that made it difficult for him to get into a match that had just turned against the Dockers.

“We have spoken about Rhys and his situation before. It is an ongoing debate that will keep going for that matter. I think Paul should worry about his own players and not other management companies’ players,” Harvey said. “It wasn’t a good time for Rhys to come on. We had lost momentum by the time Rhys had come on.

“We delayed the decision because we thought we were on top of Hawthorn. From 26 points up, we thought we should have been able to control the game.”

Harvey confirmed that Palmer, a regular substitution player this year, needed to be playing full games, but did not say whether that meant in the AFL or WAFL this weekend.

Young expressed surprise at Connors’ remarks and confirmed he had discussed Palmer’s situation with the Dockers.

“The Fremantle Football Club, Rhys and myself did have preliminary contract discussions several weeks ago, however all parties agreed to take another look at it in 6-8 weeks when Rhys is hopefully running through the midfield and doing what he does best,” he said.

“The Fremantle Football Club prefers all contract negotiations to be kept confidential and that is a concept I prescribe to. All Rhys is concentrating on right now is working his way back into playing in the midfield, a position where he earned his NAB Rising Star award. All parties will agree at the right time whether Fremantle is the right place for Rhys – and that maybe in six weeks or at the end of the season, case closed.”

Connors apologised for the speculation when contacted by _The West Australian _.

“It was an off-the-cuff remark and I have apologised to Colin Young,” he said.

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