Gardiner sees great things for Dockers
Retiring All-Australian Michael Gardiner has predicted Ross Lyon will do great things with the Fremantle list – starting with more demands on Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands to improve their leadership.
Lyon stunned St Kilda, and the rest of the AFL, by walking out on the 2009 and 2010 grand finalists to take up the senior job at the Dockers, which was unwillingly vacated by Mark Harvey.
Lyon began work in the west on Wednesday, having revealed financial worries and job security were a big consideration in his taking the job.
Gardiner, whose AFL career was resurrected by Lyon and the Saints after he left West Coast in disgrace, said he was convinced the Dockers could look forward to success – if they were willing to put in the work.
“He is a hard taskmaster but also shows a lot of compassion for things that are happening off the field and takes a good interest in your life away from football,” Gardiner said.
“What he will demand from Pavlich and Sandilands – like he did Riewoldt and Hayes – is a really strong leadership group, and they will be asked to a do a lot of things and lead the club strongly.
“He was able to find roles the lesser lights in the team and that is what the people at Fremantle should be very excited about.
“As an actual person he is a great bloke, he demands a lot of you but shows a lot of respect for you with your football life and takes an interest of what is going on away from football.”
Gardiner’s career ended on 200 total senior games, after being granted the honour by Lyon in one of his last selection acts as St Kilda.
Calling time on his career which included two losing Grand Finals, and All-Australian guernsey, huge plaudits and some worrying lows, Gardiner said his story was an example of the single-mindedness Lyon would bring to the Dockers.
“The majority of people thought I was gone, and St Kilda gave me a chance,” Gardiner said.
“When he meets people he makes up their own judgements – he is not influenced by other people think, and that is what he will do at Fremantle.”
Lyon received a frosty reception from the Perth media questioning his loyalty and integrity – and whether he will be able to develop Fremantle’s youngsters while getting the best out of the aging Dockers.
Gardiner sympathised with Lyon’s professional position, and defended his record of using younger players.
“Clearly he did not know where his future was, and clearly the club was moving to a new era – whether that was going to be with Ross or without him,” Lyon told radio 6PR.
“He made the most out of what he had and what he could get out of it.
“He is definitely not a one-trick pony.”