Dawson to repay faith
Pre-season recruit Zac Dawson says he considers himself extremely lucky to finally be a Fremantle player and he has his sights set on a strong 2012 season to repay the club.
The key defender, who joined Fremantle this week via the NAB AFL Pre-Season Draft, walked out on St Kilda in November after 63 games – including the 2009 and 2010 Grand Finals – rejecting a new contract offer from the club.
Fremantle pounced with pick No.10 in Tuesday’s draft and Dawson said he was fortunate to be given a third AFL chance, having started his career with Hawthorn in 2004.
“I was extremely lucky to get a second chance and now to get a third chance, it doesn’t happen very often,” the 25-year-old said from Fremantle Oval on Friday.
“I’m very thankful to the club and Ross [Lyon] and everyone who helped me get over here.
“I feel like I owe them and I’m very grateful for my situation.”
Dawson, who has been training with Fremantle for three weeks, said reuniting with new Fremantle coach Lyon had made his transition to WA easier.
The 195cm defender said he aimed to use his experience under Lyon at St Kilda to help Fremantle’s young players adjust to the coach’s training regime.
“It’s a bit different, every coach is different, but I think the way he coaches is a good way and I think the boys are starting to get used to it now,” Dawson said.
“It’s a different group to work with, and I think that’s what Ross is really excited about.
“I can add a bit of experience into the training – I know exactly what’s going on.”
Fremantle’s four new rookies started training with the club this week and were unveiled by recruiting manager Brad Lloyd at Fremantle Oval on Friday.
Mature-age SANFL recruit Lee Spurr, a rebounding defender from Central Districts, said he was “over the moon” to be given a chance by Fremantle after years of trying to realise his AFL dream.
The 24-year-old Queenslander, who moved to SA in 2007 to enhance his prospects of playing at AFL level, said he had been encouraged by Fremantle’s success with mature-age recruits.
SANFL club Norwood has also produced recent success stories like Nick Duigan (Carlton), Paul Puopolo (Hawthorn) and new teammate Nick Lower.
“I’ve watched Nick Lower’s progress and [Michael] Barlow with interest and it’s really positive for me to see that Fremantle give blokes opportunities,” he said.
After snaring Spurr with pick No.8 in the rookie draft, Fremantle also secured versatile forward Haiden Schloithe (No.26), former Hawthorn rookie Sam Menagola (No.44) and half-back Jordan King-Wilson (No.61).
Utility Clancee Pearce returned to the club’s rookie list for a fourth season with pick No.75.
Menagola trained with Fremantle ahead of last year’s NAB AFL Rookie Draft and would have been recruited by the club 12 months ago if Hawthorn hadn’t used its pick No.19 to secure him.
Now with Fremantle, the 189cm forward said he had learned a lot in his season with the Hawks and would back himself at his second club.
“The technical side of AFL footy, you can get lost in it a little bit and you’ve got to comply to a game plan, but I think you’ve just got to rely on your instincts,” Menagola said.
“I think you’ve just got to back yourself to play the footy that got you into the system.”