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Danyle has players' backs

Tom Fee  January 27, 2017 2:03 PM

Danyle Pearce will play his 13th AFL season in 2017.

Danyle Pearce has been a man on a mission this pre-season, and it’s not just about getting fit and ready for round one.

2017 will be Pearce’s 13th in the AFL, and his fifth as a Fremantle player. With the experience to prepare for a big season ahead, Pearce is also focusing on helping Fremantle’s younger players get there as well.

During breaks at training, Pearce is nearly always the first to finish his drink and head back to the middle. At the halfway point, he will stop and gee up every player as they make their way back to the group – usually in the form of fist-pumps and vocal encouragement.

“I’ve been doing that for probably the last three years I’d say,” Pearce said.

“But I’ve probably noticed this year I’m deliberately trying to be vocal and get around the boys a lot more, with a few of the senior players leaving over the last few years.”

“I’ve been in the system for thirteen years now, I've had a little time to think about trying to be more outgoing and more vocal. Still being myself, but trying to assume a bit more of a vocal role.”

Even off the field, Pearce has shown he makes team unity a priority, taking the midfield group on a boat trip to Rottnest in mid-January.

“I’ve made a few good friends in Perth, and they’ve got a boat which they were kind of us to let us use (the boat),” Pearce said.

“So I thought it would be great to get the midfield group as a whole to spend a day together, get out on the boat and have a good feed. Just really separate footy life from just spending time together, and really bond as a group.”

“We had a great day out and I think the boys really enjoyed it.”

Good day for it 👌

A photo posted by DARCY TUCKER (@darcytucker_) on

Pearce said that going on team outings away from football can really help a side during a long season.

“It’s crucial. You’ve got to build that bond and have that care for each other,” Pearce said.

“There’s no switch you can flick that makes you want to care for someone and look out for him and think ‘I’m going to protect and help him on the field’. You really need to build that from day one of pre-season.

“You need to help each other and get each other’s backs. So when we can go out and have a great time together and really build that bond and strengthen that unity as a group, it does show.”

After 94 games for Fremantle and 154 for Port Adelaide, Pearce finds himself just two games shy of 250 in the AFL.

The milestone game could come as early as round two, and Pearce has been handed a fitting fixture for that scenario – playing away from home against his old side.

“It was definitely the first thing I looked for,” said Pearce about Fremantle’s 2017 fixture.

“Hopefully all things go to plan and round two will be the 250th against my old club in Adelaide. 

“My family in Adelaide will be happy if that’s the case so they don’t have to travel too far. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve spoken a few of my old teammates, and the ones aren’t playing anymore are definitely keen to come out.”

“It would be good to see them, and get a win and celebrate and see all the guys I used to play with as well.”