Roger’s glad to be back home
While his exploits at the club over the past decade see him considered one for life, Roger Hayden is glad to officially be a Fremantle Docker again.
The 30-year-old has joined the club’s development coaching staff under senior development coach/assistant coach Simon Lloyd.
He will work closely with the younger players and assistant coach Todd Curley and the Fremantle defence.
“I’ve always wanted to be part of the club, so as soon as I found out a position was open I leapt at it,” Hayden said
“It’s good to be back.”
After announcing his retirement as a player on 31 August, Hayden had initially planned to take some time off to spend with his family.
“I had planned on enjoying some time with my family, but after the position became available, I had a chat with the wife and family and they said I should give it a go,” he said.
“I’d just finished a coaching qualification with the WA Football Commission and I thought the opportunity was too great to pass up.”
Hayden has no intentions of changing his ways around the players now that he is a coach.
“I’ll just be myself, the way I was as a player…straight forward and hard working. That’s what the club wants me to instil in the younger players.
“A few of the younger guys look up to me as a player still, but why I’m here is for a coaching role and I’m going to help them stick around and become 10-year players.”
Hayden said missing most of last season because of injury had helped him in regards to this new role.
“It will be similar to last year because I didn’t play much football,” he said.
“I was injured a lot and ‘Curls’ (Todd Curley) asked me to help out with a few of the younger players.”
Hayden hopes to pass on the values he had as a player and as a person to the current group.
“The way I played with my skills and defence, that’s my focus, helping ‘Curls’ develop those young players in defence,” he said.
“There are a few players that have been around for two or three years and they need to take that next step to get into the senior side and regularly play AFL football,” he said.
“I’ll be working closely, especially in defence, with players like Jesse Crichton and Nick Suban.”
And it’s not just the younger players Hayden will offer his extensive knowledge to.
“I’d love to help the fifth, sixth and seventh year players as well if they asked for it,” he said.
Hayden played a defensive sweeping role throughout his 128-game AFL career, using his silky skills to help launch many of Fremantle’s forays into attack throughout the past decade.
The club has yet to find a successor to that role, but Hayden is confident he can help mould one of the club’s young stars into the position.
“You look at Garrick Ibbotson, he’s a versatile player,” Hayden said.
“He’s quick, medium sized, reads the play very well and has very good skills. It’s the same with Nick Suban.
“They’ve got the ability to be that sort of player. It’s just instilling that confidence in them to beat their man first and foremost because they are defenders, and then to create for the team.
“That’s really important as a defender – to defend first.”
Hayden understands that his new job comes with many challenges.
But, just as he did when he responded to former coach Chris Connolly in round 16, 2002 when told he was playing for his career, Hayden is not fazed and cannot wait to have a go.
“I’ll try not to change the way I am, but in that same sense, I’m a coach now so I’ll have to be a bit more direct,” he said.
“Those are the challenges I need to face and adjust to in order to be a coach rather than a player.
“I’m really looking forward to it and I think the guys are happy that I’m down here and will feel comfortable to talk to me about whatever they wanted to.”
Much like the players he will be coaching, Hayden’s new role is a work in progress.
“This is a development role for me, too,” he said.
“I haven’t coached before but the coaching staff are really confident I can do the job.
“It’s the next best thing if I’m not playing.”