We won’t abandon draft: Lyon
New coach Ross Lyon says Fremantle is not going to abandon its long-term strategy to build a strong list through the draft, indicating that the club will value its draft picks during next week’s exchange period.
As things stand, Fremantle will enter the 2011 NAB AFL Draft with selections 16, 38 and 56, also acquiring a compensation pick at the end of the first round after midfielder Rhys Palmer moved to GWS as an uncontracted signing.
However, Brisbane Lions forward/ruckman Mitch Clark has indicated that he wants to join Fremantle during trade week in a deal that would likely cost the club draft picks.
Lyon built a track record of recycling mature-age AFL players during his five seasons as St Kilda coach, but he said it was not a strategy that would necessarily be transferred to Fremantle.
“There’s a strong understanding of the long-term strategy that Fremantle introduced probably four years ago, when they were an older list and not playing finals, to really value their draft picks and keep building on the youth,” Lyon said from Fremantle Oval on Saturday.
“There’s a good foundation there and regardless of anything that occurs we aim to build on that.”
Lyon, who said he had not thought about bringing any of his former St Kilda players across to Fremantle, was tight-lipped on the club’s chances of securing Clark.
“He’s a power forward that we’ve been linked with [but] there’s a lot of speculation and I think it’s remiss of me to go into an area,” he said.
“Trade week doesn’t start until next Monday. Up until then it’s all posturing through the media, player managers, alternate clubs and lots of opinions.
“It’s all conjecture, so there’s nothing tangible to report on.”
The coach did, however, label ruckman Jonathon Griffin a required player.
“I’ve told Jonathon I want him here, he’s really valued,” Lyon said.
“I think with the ruck situation with Aaron, seasons are long, you’re looking to rotate, I think Geelong highlighted how you can rotate roles and share loads.
“You want Aaron to be really there when the whips are cracking, so Jonathon plays an important part in that, clearly.”
Lyon addressed his players as a group for the first time on Saturday, also introducing new assistant coaches Peter Sumich and Mark Stone.
A select group of Fremantle players, including Stephen Hill, Zac Clarke, Hayden Ballantyne and Ryan Crowley, were also put through some physical testing to get an indication of the players’ current fitness levels.
“They’ve been set programs by (sports science manager) Jason Weber and just some simple aims; come back in pretty good nick,” Lyon said.
“We want great condition and great skinfolds and that allows us to attack the summer with a bit of momentum.”
On next month’s draft and the looming exchange period, Lyon said he would have a role on the sidelines, with football manager Chris Bond and list manager Brad Lloyd taking the reins.
He said the club would “like some run” and players with talent and dedication.