Sydney premiership player Brett Kirk will join the Fremantle Dockers as an assistant coach for the 2013 season.
Kirk worked with Fremantle senior coach Ross Lyon and stoppages coach Mark Stone when both were at the Swans.
Widely regarded as one of the most courageous and resilient players to have ever pulled on the boots, he played 241 games for Sydney since making his debut in 1999, including the last 200 without missing a match.
Co-captain of the Swans from 2005-2010, Kirk is a highly decorated and respected figure, whose list of achievements include a 2005 AFL Premiership win, All-Australian selection in 2004 and Sydney best and fairest in 2005 and 2007.
In 2011, he spent six months travelling the world and spreading the word about football as the AFL’s International Ambassador.
Kirk said a two year stint out of football helped him rediscover his passion for the competitive side of the game.
Rookie Lee Spurr has been elevated onto Fremantle’s senior list after the AFL granted the club permission to move the South-Australian off the rookie list.
The spot on the senior list was made available after the club placed Josh Mellington (hamstring) on the long-term injury list.
Spurr, 24, can now be selected for senior action and has been named as an emergency for Friday night’s match against Carlton at Patersons Stadium.
Fremantle draftee Lachie Neale is firmly in the frame for a round-one debut after several impressive performances throughout the pre-season, according to teammate Greg Broughton.
Neale has been one of the surprise packets of the off-season. Recruited with pick 58 in last year’s national draft, Neale has jumped over the three players that Fremantle chose ahead of him to play every pre-season game.
The Dockers have stuck with a stable team in the first two rounds of the NAB Cup so the players can prepare for the home-and-away season, which bodes well for Neale.
He has handled the pace of AFL level and played close to goal and further up the field. Broughton said he was a strong chance to make his debut if he maintained his form.
“He’s a youngster. He knows what he’s got to work on with the team structures. He played well again so I think he’d be pushing for round one,” Broughton said.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has praised draftee Lachie Neale after the teenage midfielder made an impressive start to his AFL career in Sunday’s NAB Cup matches against Essendon and West Coast.
Neale, who was selected with pick No.58 in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft, has been one of Fremantle’s standout performers this summer and he took that form onto Patersons Stadium for the club’s opening pre-season matches.
The South Australian kicked two goals in his team’s 36-point win over Essendon before a quieter match against West Coast and Lyon said he had slotted in well against AFL opposition.
“He did (look comfortable),” the coach said on Sunday night. “I suppose we’ve been a little bit bullish about him.
“In the second game he faded, but that was to be expected and it would have been easy to sub him out but we just kept him going.
“He’s just put another step in the right direction.”
Peel Thunder are tossing up between Fremantle pair Lee Spurr and Lachie Neale for the first selection in next month’s allocation of interstate AFL draftees.
Spurr, 24, was the Dockers’ first rookie draft pick at No.8 last year.
The 183cm utility player looms as the club’s latest mature-age wild-card on the back of three premierships with SANFL powerhouse Central District.
Neale, who has played senior football for Glenelg in the SANFL, is a 177cm pocket rocket capable of playing as an inside midfielder and forward.
New Fremantle rookie Lee Spurr’s story is one of genuine persistence.
Spurr was on the verge of leaving SANFL powerhouse Central District four years ago to return home to Brisbane, but opted to stay and work on several key aspects of his game that the coaches had identified as areas needing improvement.
They included increasing his speed and adding intensity to his attack on the ball.
The result was a key role in Central’s continued dominance of the SANFL and, eventually, a shot at the big time after Fremantle selected Spurr with pick eight in Tuesday’s rookie draft.
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.”
Territory players took four big marks in yesterday’s AFL rookie draft.
Darwin Buffalo Jordan Wilson and Federal utility Gibson Turner are joining Fremantle and Richmond.
Former Western Bulldog and Tiwi islander Malcolm Lynch heads to North Melbourne at pick No. 43 and Anthony Long (ex-St Marys) gets a second chance at Essendon after the Bombers targeted him at pick No. 85.
Richmond got Turner at pick No. 60 in the draft, while Fremantle went for Wilson at No. 61.
Rookie Jordan King-Wilson will serve an apprenticeship under the guidance of the very man whose place he will be aiming to take in Fremantle’s ranks.
The 18-year-old from Darwin, who will head west after being selected with pick No.61 in the AFL rookie draft, has already been earmarked as a potential like-for- like replacement for defender Roger Hayden.
And it will be to Hayden whom the teenager will be able to turn to during his first pre-season, with the retired veteran now serving as a development coach at the Dockers.
Fremantle list manager Brad Lloyd did not hide the distinct similarities between the pair.
Both are offensively-minded defenders capable of streaming out of the back line and using the ball with precision.
It was a trait King-Wilson showed repeatedly with the Northern Territory Thunder and with North Adelaide while boarding in Adelaide this year.
AFL football is a roller-coaster, but is not meant to be as tense as it has been for Sam Menegola over the past month.
The tension was replaced by relief and happiness yesterday when Fremantle drafted him with their third pick in the rookie draft.
Menegola had at least three clubs interested. He was on West Coast, Fremantle and St Kilda’s shortlists. But there were also nagging doubts because the last month had taught him to take nothing for granted.
“That’s a very hard way to make a living,” he said. “A roller-coaster. I am just relieved that it is over and I am excited that I have got a gig. Now I just have to put my head down and try and play some good footy.”
The story started 12 months ago when Fremantle, the club he had trained with and who intended drafting him with pick 20 in the rookie draft, were pipped by Hawthorn, who took him at pick 19.
At season’s end he was the subject of a failed trade between the Hawks and Saints which ended unhappily when Hawthorn de-listed him.