Archive for February, 2012
Hayden Ballantyne says a young Fremantle midfield is capable of matching it with Geelong’s premiership heavyweights in next month’s season opener.
Dockers coach Ross Lyon has challenged Ballantyne and young guns Nat Fyfe and Stephen Hill to step up this season and allow captain Matthew Pavlich to return to the forward line.
The trio appear destined to have their midfield credentials tested early as David Mundy and Michael Barlow appear unlikely to be fully fit for the round-one clash at Patersons Stadium.
Ballantyne’s declaration came as it was confirmed Luke McPharlin (ankle), Kepler Bradley (calf), Jonathon Griffin (knee) and Alex Silvagni (calf muscle) would be available for Sunday’s home NAB Cup match against Richmond.
Veteran Antoni Grover is expected to miss the match.
Bradley competed strongly during match simulation exercises yesterday and will get his chance to press his case as a permanent partner for Pavlich up forward.
Fremantle is expected to strengthen its backline for Sunday’s NAB Cup clash against Richmond, with key defenders Luke McPharlin and Alex Silvagni both available to play their first pre-season matches.
Ruckman Jon Griffin and key forward Kepler Bradley could also be called into the squad after missing Fremantle’s opening matches against West Coast and Essendon.
McPharlin, who rolled his left ankle in an intra-club match earlier this month, and Silvagni (calf) both trained strongly in a physical session at Fremantle Oval on Monday morning.
Bradley, Griffin and defender Antoni Grover also trained, but midfielders David Mundy, Michael Barlow and Anthony Morabito, who are all returning from long-term injuries, were missing.
Morabito, who underwent a knee reconstruction more than 12 months ago and suffered three setbacks in his recovery, has completed full training in the past week.
Two young female footy fans were unveiled as the latest additions to the Fremantle Dockers team at Freo headquarters today.
Johnny ‘the Doc’ Docker was very excited to announce to his junior fans that he has signed his younger sister, Jenny, up to KidZone Club.
Jenny Docker loves all sport, especially AFL, and is very excited to be able to attend her very first game at Patersons Stadium this weekend.
KidZone Club ambassador Hayden Ballantyne was also on hand to meet Jenny and announce who he had chosen as the new Freo Number 1 Junior Ticket holder- nine-year-old Madison Jeffery from Sinagra.
Madison, a huge ‘Ballaz’ fan, sent in a great presentation called ‘The Purple Princess’.
It detailed her journey as a Freo Dockers’ fan which began when her parents signed her up as a member.
Left-field Geelong draftee Orren Stephenson is on track for a daunting debut against Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands at Patersons Stadium next month.
Stephenson, who will turn 30 in July, ignited his chances of claiming a spot in the premiers’ team to play the Dockers in the season opener on March 31 with eye- catching performances against Sydney and St Kilda in Friday’s NAB Cup games at Etihad Stadium.
With premiership ruckmen Brad Ottens and Mark Blake having retired and Nathan Vardy (hip) and Dawson Simpson (back) battling injury problems, Cats coach Chris Scott said Stephenson was a chance to partner Trent West in what will be coach Ross Lyon’s first match in charge of Fremantle.
The 200cm Cat was surprise draft pick No.78 last year after playing in three VFL premierships for North Ballarat.
Happy with the pre-season so far?
There have been a lot of positives. There are still areas we are working to improve. In the first hit-out there were some really good signs. I thought the effort was really good. The priorities haven’t changed. We want them fit, available and everyone on the same page on game day. We are getting closer to getting everyone on the same page but we have some work to do to fine tune. The availability is lower than we would like. The operations that were done – there have been hiccups throughout the rehabilitation. The two notable ones are Morabito and Mundy but there is also Viv Michie. Obviously the aim is to get on top of it. We are taking the approach that it is not all due to bad luck even though a significant element of it probably is. We owe it to members and supporters to investigate it. We have made inroads and it is not dissimilar to what I experienced when I first went to St Kilda. In the end we think that will result in really strong player availability which is a critical component for success in the AFL. I’ve formed a really strong working relationship with (sport science manager) Jason Weber. We communicate daily and he is aligned to the philosophy that I bring in. He has made some adjustments and I’ve made some adjustments. I am pretty confident it is coming together.
Fremantle midfielder Jayden Pitt is a long-term prospect with a long-term vision of the type of footballer he wants to be – and it’s a vision that might surprise some.
Lightly-framed, and in a phase of his development that occasionally requires force feeding to gain weight, Pitt has played the majority of his football as a wingman and a high half-forward, focusing on “outside positions”.
They are roles that suit his strengths – an elite running ability and polished skills on both sides of his body – but the second-year midfielder doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as an outside player.
“We keep saying you want to do the team thing and put your head over the ball, so that’s an area I want to be really good at and I think the club wants me to be really good at as well,” Pitt toldfremantlefc.com.au.
“[Putting on weight] will help, but there’s no reason why I can’t do that (win contested possessions) now.”
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has challenged the club’s best young players to “step up” and share the load with captain Matthew Pavlich.
In an exclusive interview with thewest.com.au in Esperance on the club’s community visit there this week, Lyon laid down the gauntlet to young guns Nat Fyfe, Stephen Hill and Hayden Ballantyne to play increased midfield roles to allow Pavlich to play in attack.
Lyon also warned there would be no “magic wand” waved to make Fremantle a premiership team and that a significant amount of work lay ahead.
Part of that work involved investigations by himself and the club’s sports science manager, Jason Weber, into Fremantle’s recent poor injury record in a bid to get improved player availability.
Matthew Pavlich hopes he will be lifelong friends with sacked Fremantle coach Mark Harvey, but said he had to immediately give his loyalty to new man Ross Lyon.
After a week where the tension between Harvey and Lyon again flared, the Dockers skipper said he tried to make sense of the bombshell coaching switch last September by looking at it as a “simple business transaction”.
Pavlich said he only heard about the coup on the day Harvey was sacked and that the leadership group played no part in getting rid of him.
Ruck master Aaron Sandilands says diminutive teammate Hayden Ballantyne has attacked his new midfield role at top speed – and will bring excitement and energy to the Dockers’ engine room this season.
As Sandilands returns from the debilitating toe injury which ruined his season, and played a part in the eventual downfall of former coach Mark Harvey, his successor Ross Lyon has plotted over the summer how to maximise Sandilands’ stoppage dominance.
The AFL’s tallest, and some would argue most important, player has spent the pre-season building the strength in his injured toe, while developing new relationships with installed ruck coach Mark Stone who arrived from Sydney with Lyon.
Fremantle are positioned to target a marquee player this year under new AFL free agency rules that will open up some of the competition’s biggest names to interstate raids.
St Kilda star Brendon Goddard headlines a pool of 72 players who can change clubs at the end of this season as free agents.
Players who have spent at least eight years at one club will qualify under the new rules.
The Saints have a clutch of key players in that bracket, with Goddard, Leigh Montagna and Sam Fisher all coming out of contracts at the end of 2012.
Geelong’s Steve Johnson, Hawthorn workhorse Brad Sewell, Richmond on-baller Brett Deledio and Collingwood premiership duo Travis Cloke and Heath Shaw are others who fulfil the requirements.
The month-long free agency window starts on October 1. The AFL is due to announce the official list of uncontracted players on March 20.
Fremantle are believed to have at least $800,000 available in their salary cap with which to lure a big-name free agent for 2013.