Fremantle coach Ross Lyon will continue to stand strong against criticism of his past record with young players as he embraced five new teenage Dockers gleaned from last night’s draft.

And Lyon, who shocked the football world by leaving St Kilda at the end of last season, said Fremantle’s superior development resources would allow him to build an even more imposing record with the youth at his disposal.

With Victorian midfielders Tom Sheridan and Hayden Crozier topping last night’s sweep for the Dockers, the club is now focused on claiming former St Kilda defender Zac Dawson in next month’s pre-season draft. They also are considering former Collingwood forward Brad Dick as a rookie-list prospect.

Lyon said Fremantle still had a lot of work to do to fill structural and fitness roles and promised not to shy away from providing young players with opportunity in trying to return the club to the finals next year.

“I’ll let my record at the Saints stand for itself and people can make their own judgment,” Lyon said.

“I would argue that when young players came in, they stayed in.

“I’m pretty comfortable with that and I’m really excited about bringing players on.

“I feel like I had an influence in that as an assistant at Sydney and some influence at St Kilda.

“I feel confident with the coaching panel we’ve got and the fully-resourced development program, and I’m really enthusiastic about growing the performance.”

Fremantle overlooked South Fremantle forward Shane Kersten, who was picked up by reigning premiers Geelong.

Lyon also confirmed the Dockers had been interested in Stephen Hill’s brother Brad, who went to Hawthorn.

But recruiting boss Brad Lloyd was delighted with the club’s draft haul.

“You can’t fill every spot, but we did our best tonight,” Lloyd said. “We got some good shapes and sizes with a couple of taller midfield- forwards with Sheridan and Crozier, while Alex Forster is a tall defender. Lachie Neale is an inside midfielder and a really good stoppage player and Cameron Sutcliffe is a taller midfielder as well.”

Crozier, like WA’s Stephen Coniglio, turned his back on a childhood love of cricket to concentrate on football.

He took one of the best marks seen in recent under-18s national championships this year in a grab that delivered two strokes of irony.

He took it at his new playing home at Patersons Stadium in Perth, and the opportunity was delivered via a kick from last night’s No.1 draft pick and then Victorian teammate, Jonathon Patton.

The lithe Crozier said he was anxious to get to WA to immediately start work on building his AFL physique.

“I know they’re a young and up-coming team with a good young and established list and I’m very excited to join them,” the Eastern Ranges recruit said.

“I just want to establish myself in the team.

“It’s going to be difficult early moving across the other side of Australia.

“Mum was a bit distraught at the start and she started crying a bit, but dad’s excited and knows it’s the best for my footy.

“I don’t have too many goals for next year.

“If the coaches want me to play games next year, I’ll definitely be happy to play games, but I’ll need to put on the kilos and increase my endurance to do so.

“I understand what it takes.”

 

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