Lyon tells Sandilands to lighten up
Aaron Sandliands is apparently big enough for new Dockers coach Ross Lyon, who has revealed the giant ruckman will enter the 2012 season the lightest he has been for four years.
Despite a new coach, a new regime and fresh ideas, Sandilands will remain one of the Fremantle’s major assets next season, as he returns from the toe injury which ruined his last season under Mark Harvey.
That injury was one of a slew which played a big part in the eventual shock sacking of the incumbent coach, who is now at Brisbane as an assistant as Lyon begins at the Dockers.
And Lyon has revealed that leaner and meaner Sandilands has hit the pre-season training track on good shape, as he bids to return to All-Australian form.
“He had the toe last year that knocked him around a bit, but he is as light as he has been in three or four years – he seems to be enjoying himself and running around,” Lyon said.
“He is a unique AFL athlete, from afar I have watched him grow and command games.
“Mark Stone, the stoppage coach out of Sydney, is pretty excited to get his hands on him. And we are really hopeful Jonathan Griffin and Zac Clarke can have an impact aswell.”
With veteran Fremantle players impressed with Lyon’s no-nonsense communication style, his attempt to win over the Fremantle public has also continued.
Lyon is now installed as a Fremantle resident with his family, with the advantages over the set-up at St Kilda already evident.
“I’m enjoying the lack of traffic and being close to Fremantle Oval – it is just one song (on the drive) in,” Lyon said.
“Driving down to Seaford was a fair trip, so I am enjoying the geographical change.”
The Dockers will go into Tuesday’s pre-season and rookie drafts with six picks, with Lyon hinting they will use most or all in a bid to inject more youth into the club.
“(There are) a lot of young players, and with the rookie draft next week there will be basically another ten – which is 37 in the last three years over four drafts,” Lyon said.
“It is a real opportunity to get to work with the group and build something special. We have got a fair bit of work to do.”
The new coach however was clear on his immediate ambition.
“Certainly aiming to be in the top eight – everyone’s aim is to play finals,” Lyon said.
“And from there, the Eagles showed if you get everything right and get everyone fit and available on the one page and working really hard, you can turn things around relatively quickly.”
And that revolution will be helped by an Eagles legend in Peter Sumich, who Lyon said will add to the Dockers’ armoury while being a big loss to the WA rivals.
“They were a good team, but now Peter Sumich has defected you might lose a little bit out of the West Coast camp,” Lyon joked on radio Mix 94.5.